A recent 2010 survey by the Yankee Group showed that enterprises are now the fastest adopters of the cloud. In less than a decade Google, Amazon, and Salesforce.com went from unknown ideas to global market powers. In even less time LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter changed the world. According to the Executive Guide to Cloud Computing, these organizations rode the power of the cloud to dominance. "With roots in supercomputing and many other technical disciplines, cloud computing unleashed an entirely new economic reality: technology-enabled enterprises built on low-cost, flexible, and limitless technical infrastructures".
What are the primary options for the enterprise?
First, consider the type of cloud service: IaaS, SaaS, PaaS
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the most fundamental, providing the basic infrastructure that applications require: servers, storage, and networking. Rather than incurring the cost of hardware, provisioning, and maintenance, companies can rent what they need from a cloud provider, in a pay-for-use model. Amazon is one of the leading IaaS providers. But Yankee Group notes that while enterprises want to make their IT infrastructure like Amazon’s or even Google’s, they don’t necessarily want to use either vendor.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is the most prevalent cloud computing model, allowing companies to access key applications over the Internet from an external provider, rather than deploying and managing the applications in-house. Salesforce.com is one of the most well-known such applications. Enterprises benefit from SaaS cost savings by no longer needing to acquire, install, manage and upgrade the software internally. The primary limitation, however, is that an enterprise may not be able to fully customize the application.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a model where the vendor provides the infrastructure needed to build and run applications over the Internet, in the form of both open (.Net, Java) and custom (salesforce.com platform) applications. This model is also subscription-based, and allows enterprises to build powerful applications and deploy them easily to users around the globe.
Second, consider the type of cloud implementation: Public, Private, Hybrid
Private clouds are hosted using in-house resources, so companies can maintain control over the network, maintenance, and security of the cloud. This option may be ideal for companies handling sensitive data and customer information. Public clouds, on the other hand, are provided by third parties. These clouds are more elastic, freeing the enterprise from the concern of utilization.
Ecommercetimes.com highlights the hybrid approach, which “allows an organization to split its workload, for example, putting Web content in a public cloud, but respecting compliance concerns by keeping the payment system for the Web service in its own private infrastructure.” Also, when resources are in high demand, hybrid environments allow for cloud bursting, in which workloads are moved from a private cloud to a public cloud.
Cloud computing is an enabling technology that seems more than ready to serve the varied needs of enterprises. It requires only some thoughtful consideration to find the optimal combination.