Friday, June 25, 2010

Indroduction to Cloud Computing

Bringing Cloud Computing Down to Earth
Cloud computing is the latest big thing among IT professionals. But unlike other recent hot trends you may have heard about (for example, tablet computing, voice recognition and quantum computing, among others), cloud computing offers turnkey solutions — fast.

What is cloud computing? Simply put, it means running some of your software applications and servers using computer space leased from a data center someone else operates.

Cloud Computing Basics

With cloud computing, you don’t have to worry about buying, installing and managing physical servers in your office; you just log in to the cloud servers with the username and password that your provider gives you.

Cloud computing is a broad term that can cover everything from Web mail services, such as Hotmail®, and online application providers, such as Google Docs™ and, to companies that host servers. There is one key element all cloud computing offerings share: They allow businesses to quickly, easily and inexpensively leverage world-class services.

For example, businesses can use Dell cloud computing services to satisfy email needs; remotely manage all workstations; manage leads with; or share documents worldwide with Google Docs. With cloud computing, businesses can use best-of-breed solutions without building out expensive infrastructure themselves.

That means your business could use:
  • Dell cloud computing services to satisfy your email needs or remotely manage all your workstations
  • to manage customer leads
  • Google Docs for sharing documents worldwide
Below is a list of some of the pros and cons of cloud computing.
Cloud Computing Advantages:
  • Storage Costs ― You can pay a monthly fee and use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Software is provided and maintained by the provider. No need to worry about purchasing new software or upgrades. You can also take advantage of any free applications your provider offers, and you don’t have to worry about downloading fixes and patches.
  • Accessibility ― Road warriors, remote employees, intra-office workers and field workers can easily access crucial documents and information whether they are in the office or not. Cloud computing also greatly increases workers’ ability to collaborate with other employees or clients. Workers can tap into software and add data using many different mobile devices regardless of location.
  • Scalability ― If your company’s IT needs vary from month to month, cloud computing can accommodate periods of very high or very low IT demands.
Cloud Computing Disadvantages:
  • Savings ― Using a cloud computing service provider to store massive amounts of data can be expensive, not only because of the price of the physical storage, but also because you have to pay to access your data. If you use large amounts of storage, you might want to buy and manage it yourself
  • Internet Instability ― Because you access the cloud through the Web, any disruptions to your Internet service will cause delays. As a result, cloud computing might not work for companies that need 100 percent uptime.
  • Software Limitations ― If Microsoft® Office is the cornerstone of your business productivity, then cloud computing may not be a good choice. Microsoft Word and Excel® aren’t offered in the cloud.
Cloud Computing Security

Since cloud computing is all about putting business-critical applications and data out on the Internet, security becomes critical. Focus on selecting a service provider with redundant servers and continuous automated data backup. Be confident that no one else can access confidential business data stored in the cloud. You should also seek assurances that if the cloud computing provider accidentally discloses information, the provider will assume responsibility and liability. Security can never be perfect, but your contract must cover liability if there is a lapse of any kind.

Cloud Computing Providers

You should approach buying cloud computing services as you would any other outsourcing decision. Select providers that offer the required features, whether those include email services, laptop data encryption or full customer relationship management solutions. Then evaluate the provider as a business. Think of the following questions:
  • How reliable is the cloud computing provider?
  • What contingency plans does the provider offer in the event of problems?
  • How long has it been in business?
Consider these Software-as-a-Service providers for the following cloud computing services:
Customer relationship management
  • Sales Force Automation ―, Zoho, Xactly
  • Service and Support ―, ServiceNow
  • Marketing Automation ― Eloqua
Collaboration and communication
  • Web Conferencing ― GoToMeeting, WebEx, DimDim
  • Email ― Rackspace Mail, Zimbra
  • Suites ― Google Apps, Zoho, Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, Lotus
Enterprise resource planning
  • Human Resources ― Workday, Successfactors, Taleo
  • Finance – Intuit, NetSuite, Workday
IT management
  • Dell™ Modular Services
  • McAfee® Security as a Service
  • Websense® Hosted Email Security
  • BMC Service Desk Express Suite

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