Why Computing is Shifting to the Cloud
As we’ve seen, the roots of cloud computing extend back to the 1950s, when the operators of large mainframe computers shared capacity on the machines with multiple work stations.
But it’s only been in the past decade or so that the information technology world has begun to turn en masse to the cloud, a buzzword for making software, number-crunching ability and storage technology available through servers located offsite from the user’s physical desktop computer.
The reason more companies are turning to the cloud for their IT is that it brings multiple benefits, some well-publicized, some not.
Flexibility to Scale
One of the best-known reasons to go to the cloud is the flexibility to use as much computing capacity, or as little, as you need at a given time.
The Uptime Institute has regularly conducted surveys showing that many companies are overprovisioned in their computing capacities, and that decommissioning a single rack of servers can bring up to $2,500 in savings per year when you include the costs of maintenance, software and electricity. Indeed, some estimate that, on average, half of machines in any data center are underutilized.
One reason companies keep all that capacity around is that they need it from time to time. But more organizations are starting to realize that they don’t need that on-premise computing power at all.
Got a seasonal rush of orders for books and music? Have a sudden need to simulate environments involving hundreds of thousands of servers? Need the instant capacity to ensure your app can handle millions of simultaneous requests? See: Obamacare debacle. One wonders how things might have been different with more testing under simulated real-world conditions.
Cloud computing will let you process all those transactions without having to buy servers that would sit underused the rest of the year. In the cloud, or in multiple clouds, you have almost unlimited storage capacity.
Another Benefit: Big Cost Savings
Along with that flexibility comes substantial cost savings. By essentially renting time on pricey servers, your business avoids most of the dreaded “costs of ownership” of those machines, such as maintenance and upgrades – not to mention replacement expenses every few years.
(As we will see in future blogs, those costs savings depend on several factors, and the costs of the various types of cloud solutions might not be what they appear at first.)
Capital expenses can be freed up to grow the business instead. A recent study of 1,300 organizations in the UK and the United States, 62 percent of respondents said cloud computing enabled them to invest more money back into their businesses. Companies said infrastructure costs were reduced 23 percent. And, on average, the cloud improved profits by 22 percent, the survey found.
The IT department is bound to love the use of cloud in their arena, since it saves them from maintaining, upgrading, fixing and replacing software and hardware systems. Responsibility for those chores rests with the cloud provider, allowing chief information officers to focus on more important matters.
Some executives also report other unexpected perks from shifting to the cloud. Companies have found benefits ranging from smoother sailing into new lines of business to easier mergers and acquisitions.
In our next blog, we’ll take a look at the differences among the various types of cloud computing.