2 Ways to Understand Cloud Computing: Architectures & Business Models

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There are plenty of ways to understand the concept of Cloud Computing.  Here are two that we find useful: Cloud as a kind of computing architecture and Cloud understood as a kind of service delivery and consumption model.  Let’s be clear, these notions are NOT meant to be seen as competing alternatives to one another. Rather, they are best understood as different facets of a broad and many-faced thing; like a jewel. Articulating your organization’s cloud strategy starts with understanding what’s possible.

On the one hand, the concept of Cloud is architectural: it’s often understood as pool of bulk, distributed servers and storage with no single point of failure and the ability to scale workloads up and down fast.  One very attractive feature of this elastic computing fabric is that it can deliver real economies of scale.  The idea is that Cloud is about commoditized computing.  The underlying physical infrastructure and components matter much less than the platform they deliver for running apps and data storage.  Understood in this way, you can build your own cloud if you have the money and the data centre space.  It’s the next stage of computing abstraction and architecture once you’ve “virtualized” your servers using tools like VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V and built redundant, shared storage pools for your data. The idea of a private cloud underpinning the IT infrastructure of a mid-sized organization relies precisely on this understanding of Cloud.

When Cloud is understood as a service delivery model – what’s unique and exciting are the ways that people and organizations can consume and pay for technology resources, media, and computing horsepower. On this idea, Cloud is a method of delivering  “on-demand” stuff. Think of what the rise of Netflix and streaming media did to Blockbuster and the entire notion of the video rental store.  Understood as a business model, Cloud is very much like a car lease or your TV Cable service.  You don’t really own the physical components, you plug in to the service and pay a monthly fee for on-demand resources.  Someone else is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the system, you pay for access only.  And public clouds like those offered by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are perfect examples.  They provide plug and play access to a bulk computing and service platform distributed across many data centres.  What’s attractive about the cloud as a business model is the stability of the economics (fixed fees) and the ease of use for the services.

Are you thinking about your own cloud strategy lately? We can help.

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