In a previous blog, I discussed the early stages of cloud computing, and now I’ll touch on why this concept has taken hold now, or shall we say, why cloud computing is at least more viable now. First of all, we have better technology now than we ever did. The networks are better than ever, allowing access to remote data faster. At Dialogic, we use Salesforce.com, perhaps the most famous and successful software as a service provider, and I don’t see any difference between speed of access to this data versus access to on-site data through our internal network. Additionally, we have better remote APIs allowing access to “media resource functions.” This is probably more apt to infrastructure as a service, where an application can go call on a “media resource function” to perform a specific task, perhaps a conferencing resource, or a fax resource, or a video resource. Additionally, there is excellent virtualization technology if you are the place where the “hosting” of the applications occurs. You can virtualize your capital expenditures (i.e., your racks of servers) so that you can partition servers for the various services, as opposed to having a specific server for a specific task, even if that task isn’t accessed a lot. It just makes the cloud computing business model more viable.
From a non-technical standpoint, there are also economics involved. If you are an IT manager under pressure to cut costs, wouldn’t you be tempted to use a model where you don’t need to buy hardware, don’t need to manage the hardware, don’t need to program the network application and don’t need to worry about backups, running out of disk space, network overload and crashes in the middle of the night? What if you simply bought a service that did all this for you and bought more “services” when you needed more? What if your engineering department needed a big compute platform, but only for a specific period of time? You could buy all the servers and then have some of the equipment idle when you completed the task, or you could “rent” the resources required. As an IT person, you probably spend significant time managing the phone systems in your building. You can use a hosted/cloud PBX for instance — you just need phones on employees’ desks, or even better yet, use softphones so you don’t need any hardware on employees’ desks — and you give employees their phone number and that’s that.
In one of my next blogs, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of companies using cloud computing.