In 2009, many companies began to integrate cloud computing into their daily operations (whether they know it or not). The main concept behind cloud computing is the delivery of computing resources over the Internet, as opposed to a physical machine.
Several aspects of the cloud are extremely appealing to the enterprise, especially smaller companies who can be more adaptable in their choice of technology.
We Don’t Need No Stinking Hardware
Software as a Service (SaaS) is the use of a system (generally a web application) within a managed environment, rather than installed on local servers. This allows you to get up and running immediately without having to worry about the underlying technology.
Last year, while working for CrossTech Partners, we developed a SaaS-based content management system called ExgenexCMS. Using the SaaS approach, we were able to get the client database provisioned and the basic website up and running within hours.
For clients that do not have a server environment or internal IT resources, this is an ideal situation.
The Way of the Google
Over the last few years Google Apps has evolved to mimic the functionality of the Microsoft Office suite. We use several of their tools for collaboration, including the Docs and Spreadsheets. (If you haven’t edited a Google Spreadsheet at the same time as someone else and seen their changes in real time, it is pretty cool). Since we are often traveling, it is important that we have tools that all users can interact with, regardless of location or platform.
Interestingly enough, this week Google made an announcement this week that they will working with several partners to straddle the desktop-cloud divide. While I’m sure Google developed these applications to compete with (read “replace”) Microsoft Office, they are smart enough to realize that large companies aren’t going to ditch their legacy systems…unless they bridge the gap.
It will be interesting to see which how long it takes for companies to stop straddling and to dive headfirst into the cloud.
Let’s Get Virtual
For me, one of the best parts of the entire cloud movement has been virtual machines. A virtual machine is exactly like a normal computer (with processor, memory, storage, and operating system), but is doesn’t live in a physical box. Several virtual machines can live within a single box, or could spread across a server farm.
We have been using virtual machines in our server room for a few years now, and I cannot praise it enough. Before virtualization, it would take us hours to get a new server ready for production. Now, we can simply clone one of our existing machines and have a fully functional web or database server up and running within minutes.
Whether it is building a web-based application or virtualizing your server room, there are many ways in which you can use cloud computing to improve and supplement your existing technology environment.