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ACCA.Views: Cloud Computing – the opportunity ahead

Cloud Computing, for the technologist, represents a tremendous opportunity to drive IT infrastructure efficiencies. In addition the architectural principles behind cloud computing offer completely new business models which, in some cases, offers a significant economic benefit.

The following table summarizes the cloud computing models. The key aspects are owned IT infrastructure vs. dedicated or shared infrastructure.

Owned/leased infrastructure

Not owned Infrastructure

Dedicated Infrastructure

Traditional Data Center

Co-location, Hosting, Outsourced

Shared Infrastructure

Private Cloud

Public Cloud

For each model, the data center functions as the fundamental building block for cloud computing. However, in the case of shared infrastructure, there is a case of a common layer that serves as the basic building block for the sharing. Traditionally the common layer is based on the compute model (X86 or some of the mainframe API's). As cloud computing emerges and gains acceptance, specialized services will become more prevalent such as specialized API's. There are plenty of examples of this happening today with solutions such Backup-As-A-Service or Storage-As-A-Service. The fundamental principle of cloud computing in the view of the Association is that the cloud is a shared service - and that sharing is the important principle. The access method that a particular cloud offers can range from any number of things such as virtual machines to application services or API's.

Why move from dedicated to shared infrastructure

The cloud model, with its standardized building blocks, serves a couple of scenarios really well and in particular - public cloud can serve these scenarios exceptionally well. These include use cases involving high growth volumes, periodic high volumes, aperiodic high volumes and on-off applications. Because the majority of the cost in dedicated infrastructure is spent to manage the peak demand, significant savings opportunities exist for shared infrastructure supporting workloads that experience these peaks and valleys of usage. In the public cloud case, the aggregation of multiple workloads allows for a significantly more efficient use of capital by distributing peak demand across multiple shared resources.

How does this change the way companies deploy/use information technologies

As the adoption of cloud and particularly public cloud increase, there will be a new set of challenges for corporations. Many of these challenges have previously been solved in related areas such as hosting services or outsourcing. For instance, Service Level Agreements are an important part of the public cloud. Hosting companies and outsources have vast experiences managing to SLA requirements. There will be multiple new and emerging areas where corporations interested in cloud technologies will need to develop expertise. These areas involve defining the selection processes to determine service providers, auditing mechanisms, end-user constraints, geographic access, end-user provisioning and integration into corporate directories as well as understanding national constraints such as data sovereignty requirements.

What to do next

The Asia Cloud Computing Association recognizes that the industry is in the early days of realizing the full potential of cloud computing. As an Association we recommend a strategic plan be developed to identify which areas in the corporation is suitable for cloud and which should be deferred. We also recommend participating in industry forums such as the Asia Cloud Computing Associations working groups and other public forums where insight and best practices can be obtained. We believe that this is the operating model which will dominate IT for years to come. Thus Chief Executives or CIOs should acquire a solid understanding of the opportunity that cloud can represent so as to be better positioned to drive efficiencies in IT for your business or organization.

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par botes2Par Botes: ACCA Board member and Director

Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Asia Pacific & Japan, EMC Corporation