Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 - 12:48
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - 12:34
The flexibility of cloud computing offers Government users and IT service providers faster access to services with reduced cost.
Cloud is much in the news and lexicon these days – cloud this, and cloud that, and migrating to the cloud…cloud, cloud, cloud… So what’s the big deal? Does the cloud really help end users? Will cloud help federal agencies meet their mission? Will cloud really reduce costs?
The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES! And whether you realize it or not, you’re already in the cloud. Your Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo account is email service provided in the cloud. Because when we talk about cloud what we are really talking about is moving computer applications, whether its email or a financial management system or a database system, from a system where they exist on your desktop computer to where they live on a server somewhere and are accessed via the Internet. So today you access your personal email via the cloud – so why not your business applications?
The benefits of moving applications to the cloud are numerous and proven. Among these are increased reliability, increased information security, lower costs, increased accessibility (i.e. remote access and telework), increased IT flexibility, and faster application upgrades (no more waiting 10 years to upgrade to the next version of application xyz or 20 years to get your financial management upgraded).
The driving force behind the move to the cloud has been users. People frustrated with their IT departments, who controlled access to computer resources, have become increasingly vocal about the need for better access, more flexibility, and more powerful productivity tools. Frequently, users found that competition for resources coupled with lengthy processes for IT asset acquisition delayed deployment for their development and/or applications’ needs.
Once usage exceeds capacity, users were stymied. When their application outgrew the power of existing resources, the long, frustrating cycle would begin again. Today, users can look to the flexibility of cloud computing resources to regain control over their workflow, improve collaboration and have access to compute resources on demand.
Further, while most computers today are energy-star certified, cloud takes green computing one step further. It decreases electricity use and slashes carbon emissions, while also reducing IT costs by making better use of computer and network infrastructure,. Cloud also opens avenues for telecommuting (Internet-based email for example), which further improves the environmental benefits.
Correspondingly, IT service providers see cloud computing not only as a means to keep users productive and happy, but also to optimize their data centers’ usage. In many centers, only 15% of computing capacity is used at any time. The other 85% percent sits idle due to its inflexibility and ad hoc nature in which it was acquired.
Cloud-based computing can achieve much higher utilization rates because of the flexibility of cloud resources built on standard middleware interfaces and virtualization. This additional flexibility and capacity can also easily accommodate ever-varying user demands, such as the peaks end-of-quarter or end-of-year processing. From the IT supplier’s perspective, the excess capacity during valleys of demand for one user community are readily re-directed to another’s peak needs.
A Brookings Institute study found that “… agencies generally saw between 25 and 50 percent savings in moving to the cloud.” The same report refers to other studies which claim savings from 39% to 99%. While the range is broad, there is general consensus that migrating to cloud can generate enviable savings.
Recent IDC research shows that worldwide IT spending on cloud services will grow almost threefold, reaching $44.2 billion by 2013, as the cloud computing model offers a lower cost way to acquire and use IT. The recent economic downturn has accelerated cloud services adoption due to the cost-cutting mantra of most organizations.
Png Jinsong, General Manager -IT Department Sinochem Group says that “Cloud computing…adequately captures the Chinese culture of wanting to control the water up in the sky. For an analogy, we can compare computing resources to water droplets. So water droplets consolidated becomes a cloud and wherever we need computing resources, we can move the cloud to where we want it to rain and then community resources, like water, will be falling to where the requirements are.”
In other words, cloud computing gives us the capability of directing “rain” where it is needed. That is: it offers businesses and governments the dynamic infrastructure that will solve real world problems in a more cost-effective way..
Federal computer users have often suffered an IT productivity drought, with outdated applications and frustration over how IT services were parceled out. The movement to cloud offers the potential to fundamentally change how federal agencies use IT, and to bring relief to long suffering federal workers. That’s what’s so exciting about cloud, and that’s why we will be spending the next several posts examining cloud in more detail.
Johnny Barnes, left, is the General Manager Technology and CTO for IBM's Global Business Services. Mr. Barnes has over 35 years of experience with IBM, holding a variety of product, solution development, staff, system architecture, management and executive positions. Mr. Barnes has been appointed to several IBM corporate staff positions, which have included a number of critical IBM product and strategy task forces responsible for establishing the future technical and business direction for IBM. Mr. Barnes has also worked to re-engineer IBM’s internal hardware development, global computing and telephony environments and grow IBM’s Public Sector transformation services business.
Mr. Barnes has an overall perspective of the computer industry and its applicability to business segments, as well as IBM's strategic plans to meet the distributed computing and e-business on demand market to satisfy future critical business requirements. Currently, as General Manager Technology and Corporate Technology Officer, Mr. Barnes has responsibility for IBM’s WW Public Sector Technical and Solution Strategy and expanding IBM’s Public Sector transformation service business.