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To prove the cloud’s value to your business, executives must first appreciate the cloud features that can boost the enterprise beyond the IT department. True leaders must show the way to capture the real savings and potential of cloud computing.

The only thing bigger than the cloud is the talk surrounding the cloud. If you think it should all stay within the IT department, you should reconsider. IT spending is slated to go toward Cloud computing because 63% of organizations see a strong case for cost savings, according to theIDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study.

As an executive, you don’t have to be an IT expert to grasp the components and benefits of the cloud. The characteristics of cloud translate into cost savings and operational efficiencies; knowing the key cloud attributes can make migrating to the cloud the best business decision you make.

Inforgraphic from Rackspace

Inforgraphic from Rackspace

 First, Some Background on the Cloud

The cloud gives all business, regardless of product and industry, the capability to essentially outsource data hardware and large software programs to third-party infrastructure. For a quick refresh on the basics of cloud service models (how you use and access the cloud such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) check out this great article from VentureBeat.com.
How does the cloud save money? Knowing the basic features of cloud computing can explain how these capabilities will translate outside of the IT department and impact the entire business, your customers, and the world.
Cloud features you should know about as an executive:
  1. On-demand self-service: Your business can use the cloud to obtain, configure and deploy apps without any IT heavy lifting. Cloud vendors provide templates (shameless plug – see elasticserver.com) to front-load most of the configuration work your IT team would otherwise have to create. Just think of those pre-segmented plates at a Chinese buffet – they hand you the structure and recommendations, but you put what you consume on top. At the end of the day they still own the plate, though. (More on our differing opinions on cloud migration in the next few weeks….)
  2. Resource pooling: the cloud gives you the ability to centralize your IT resources while spreading the usage across servers. Just like a bank pools individual’s accounts balances and doles out the cash for loans, your cloud maximizes the shared computing power to efficiently distribute capacity as needed. You will hear the IT folks talk about this in terms like multitenancypeak-load capacity, and utilization efficiency.
  3. Virtualization: by creating a virtual, rather than physical, versions of your application topologies you can move those topologies at will across clouds and between your datacenter and the cloud.  As an added bonus it increases accountability of usage and allows you to leverage the inherent scalable nature of the cloud.  Just think of how old email was saved to your particular computer before you could access it from any computer, network or device.  Cloud vendors provide you the user with virtual access to the cpu, memory, storage, and network.
  4. Accessibility: your product and business can launch applications across platforms (from laptops to Android phones to AppleTV), making your resources more accessible and reliable. If the office network takes a computer down in LA, the data are backed up to the cloud and still available on a tablet in Paris. This is the new disaster recovery / disaster preparedness you hear about.
  5. Scalability: The cloud’s ability to scale up or down means your company doesn’t have to hoard data or computing capacity for the rare demand spikes. In a series of great cloud examples, Forbes conveys this concept through Netflix. Netflix uses someone else’s infrastructure (Amazon Web Services) to run their could-based application, ballooning out the capacity and storage during peak instant streaming times, while reeling it back in during the quiet hours. On-demand scalability is sometimes better expressed aselasticity.

Need more detail? Check out the helpful Wikipedia post on Cloud Computing. 

Proof of Value: The reports are in and the cloud is part of the new business strategy

study of small and medium business leaders found 62% use cloud applications, up from 28% two years ago.   According to the IDG study, 2/3 of organizations (66%) believe cloud computing is a very/somewhat important enabler of business innovation.   According to theCSC Cloud Usage Index  82% of respondents saved money on their most recent cloud  project. Translated, this means cloud is more than data storage and essential business operations, file-sharing, and data storage are finding their way as well. Cloud is moving beyond proof of concept to the new standard - will your organization lead the way or lag behind?

Drive toward innovation by working with IT and the budget planners to foster discussions on how the cloud fits into your business and strategy. The CEO should encourage collaboration with business units to ultimately anticipate client needs. In the 2011 PwC CEO Survey, 78% of CEOs expect innovations to generate significant new revenue opportunities in the next 3 years. Cloud can lead to innovation as well as allow for faster delivery on current products and services, which all translates into more revenue.  

The post Top 5 cloud features executives need to know appeared first on Cloud Computing Best Practices.

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