The Cloud – What?
Written for trak.in, an Indian blog about business in India.
I have always been a big believer that 'the cloud' is marketing lingo. I can understand how 'cloud computing' is an exciting new phenomena but certainly not 'the cloud'. Even 'cloud computing' is not that new. However, how you do business using the benefits on offer today in the hosting world matters.
Let me explain.
“The cloud” is the Internet. Think about it – everyone has their definition about what it is, but at the crux of it, it is a group of machines parts of which can be leveraged for various benefits such as hard drive space, computing power, etc.
Cloud computing or shared hosting on the other hand is a bit more specific on how you can use combined power of various machines. I used the term shared hosting, for shared space deliberately to help you understand that ever since the Internet started, people have always had shared hosting – so again, this is not a completely new phenomena.
What is new is the commoditization of costs associated with computing (space or resources). Now you can be billed by the minute for CPU, by the GB for space and so on. This is more of a recent introduction in the past 2+ years and now everyone is on the bandwagon. Believe me, I mean everyone.
Last week, I visited Bangkok for the World Hosting Day conference in Asia. It had a lot of large and key players in the online infrastructure world. The theme of this conference was the cloud and everyone was talking about it. I was actually bit surprised given that these were industry veterans coming together to talk about the revolutions in the hosting world.
What I realized later in the conference was for Asia, packing hosting as a ‘cloud’ was still new.
Not to mention, there is a large push that has come from various organisations to call this new environment, a cloud. So now that you have a better understanding on where the hosting world sits, I learnt a few things last week I would like to share.
My learning is given the current market mood, it is not about picking whether you should get a new 'Cloud Provider' but what you should watch out for when you are picking one:
1. The basic underlying principles for your work requirements are still the same. Regardless of where your data sits and how much processing power you need, it can happen off-site or on-site. It still comes down to the ‘cost’.
2. Security is important, but the cloud is not as bad as it is made out to be. Data today can move across the world hassle-free. Sure there are more risks, but good cloud providers are aware of these risks and are doing everything they can to mitigate such risks.
3. If you are going to jump in, phase in. Settle in, don’t just jump in. Understand cost benefits, risks and start with less important things. If you see various benefits in outsourcing with less important things, you can slowly start migrating the more critical data and processes.
At the end of the day, the cloud is as much a business support idea as hosting is. Not much has changed; simply the new marketing lingo with it has brought new perceptions.
If you make rational decisions like everything else in business, you are unlikely to go wrong.