Over the past three years there has been a significant change in technology
and internet services delivery. The term 'Cloud', which is used to depict the
Internet in computer network diagrams, now incorporates a concept of computing
services that are delivered via the Internet. The most prominent of these being
Saas, software as a service; PaaS, platform as a service; IaaS, infrastructure
as a service.
Cloud computing is broadly a hosted service provision, whereby the customer
rents use of a particular application or service rather than own it themselves.
The obvious benefits are capital expenditure savings; hardware, software,
licensing, infrastructure and management overhead. You only pay for the
resources consumed which are often covered by service level agreements and users
can generally terminate the contract at any time, thus avoiding ROI risks. It is
secure, scalable and reliable.
However, there are current industry debates regarding the strategic shift of
the use of information technology. As IT is becoming more standardised and less
expensive the cloud model might not make such fiscal sense within larger
organisations. In situations where the capital expense would be relatively small
such organisations might actually pay more for operating expenses. Other
impacting factors might include the efficiency of company data centre compared
to cloud vendors, existing operation costs, level of adoption, data security
policies, limitations and type of functionality being hosted.
In these circumstances a private cloud might be the route to take. A virtual
environment hosted on your own systems that delivers the benefits and cost
savings, but with all of the control.