This is a subject in which I’m a strong believer. People call it cloud computing.
Do you know what a cloud computer is?
Well, I’m not going to give you the whole theory on cloud computing like the controversial Larry Ellison.
It is important to clarify two major differences.
- Infrastructure as a service
- Everything else, which normally starts with “something” as a service.
Infrastructure as a service
Traditional computers have their operating system installed into the hardware. In some cases, you can have software installed that enables you to run other operating systems inside the primary operating system that you have installed. Some examples are Vmware Workstation/Fusion, Oracle Virtual Box (Free)and Parallels. This software enables you to have virtual machines. It is also called a hypervisor and since you have a base operating system installed to run it, it’s n hypervisor type 2.
There are also Type 1 hypervisors that are basically virtualization software that don’t require an operating system to work. This means that they create virtual machines. This is more for high end deployments where one physical server can run many operating systems and you can have server clusters with redundancy. Some examples of software like this are Citrix Xen Server, Vmware Vsphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VM.
When I state everything else, it is because the concepts can be broader and less different than each other. When you have “something” that “something” is pretty very much self-explanatory. As an example, Software as a Service (also abbreviated to SaaS), means you are getting software like you get a service by paying per use.
This example (software) is what I want to focus on. It is because in the SaaS (Software as a Service), that you will have the best opportunity to compose a information systems infrastructure on your own, that can provide for the operational needs of your company.
Everything else will probably need IT staff to help you out.
If you truly want to read more on cloud computing, you can start on the Wikipedia page for cloud computing.
Why cloud computing, why Software as a Service.
There are several reasons why one can opt to use the cloud computer instead of the traditional IT/IS.
- Managed. Cloud providers will manage and ensure that the platforms are up and running.
- It’s fast. Most of the cloud services can be contracted immediately with no waiting for hardware acquisitions from software installation.
- Adjustable. This means that you can have 10 users today, 30 tomorrow and 20 next week.
- Scalable. Good providers will hold all of the necessary conditions for your platform to scale if necessary.
- Backups. SaaS will have backup strategies implemented as well as disaster recovery in-place that you don’t have to worry about that.
- Self service. If it’s not self service you are probably dealing with traditional hosting, dedicated servers or VPS which is not a true cloud offer.
- It’s global. You are not tied to anything other than an Internet connection.
- Limited. You have to stick to what the offers are, custom applications and software can be done in Cloud. However, you’ll have to use PaaS, Iaas (off-scope in this article).
- Expensive. It can be considered more expensive if you ignore the advantages above as well as the cost of hardware, electricity, hvac and software/hardware support contracts..
- Security. You don’t control your data like you would with a on premise (meaning no cloud) solution. Some people may argue with this, but the bigger providers ensure data protection certification. Nevertheless, nobody can comply with 100% security. This includes both the cloud provider and you.
- Data location. Some countries, depending on your business type, might forbid you to have your data outside your country’s borders. You may still use SaaS but you may have fewer options to choose from.
If you’re thinking about the security (3) bullet, ask yourself this:
How can you be absolutely sure that on premise software doesn’t have a bug that leads to a Trojan horse? How much personal and important information do I have in my personal emails, social networks and online shopping services?
Long ago, a small company would need to contract consulting services and spend considerable upfront money on hardware and software just to enable that company to be on the edge. Every given company can now have access to high end software and programs. They offer readily available and redundant infrastructures that allow them to run with (almost) no faults.
If you are starting a business, the only thing that you need is an Internet connection and the devices that enable you to reach your services, which can be email and productivity with Google Apps and Zoho, your website in Squarespace, your CRM in Salesforce.com and your HR on Workday. Just to state some examples.
It’s all “yours” and at the reach of your finger tips.