Cloud computing is a hot topic among information technology professionals, but just what is it? More specifically, is it a high-value driver in the modern data center?
What Is Cloud Computing?
Under the traditional IT infrastructure model, an organization maintains a data center which provides IT resources to end users. Under a cloud computing model, the organization connects to a data center operated by a third party. These data centers serve many clients, with each drawing the resources they need from the computing complex.
A common metaphor is the electrical grid. Traditional servers are like getting your electrical power from onsite generators, with all the operational and maintenance headaches that go with it. Cloud computing is like getting power off the grid. You don't operate the generating resources or even know where they are.You just get the power you need when you need it
Cloud computing is a type of data center colocation. Some colocation plans give clients access to specific servers in a designated location. Cloud computing is colocation, but with access to servers shared among many clients.
Advantages Of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing data centers are more reliable because clients are no longer dependent on a limited number of servers. If one server goes down, others automatically pick up the load with no interruption of service. Redundant connections and power supplies keep the network running smoothly, and multiple server locations ensure that even a fire or other disaster can't cripple the information network.
Cloud computing creates a scalable IT infrastructure environment. Clients have scalable access to the computing resources they need, no more and no less, so their IT capabilities grow as the company does. Centralized application access simplifies maintenance, since IT personnel no longer have to update each user's computer. Professional management of data center colocation services allows clients to save money by operating with a smaller IT department.
Security and privacy are two of the top issues cited by companies reluctant to adopt cloud computing, especially those in companies falling under stringent federal regulations such as HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley. Does that mean the cloud is insecure? No.
In many ways, data center colocation makes data more secure. Most colocation providers offer a level of physical and data security which wouldn't be cost effective for their clients to provide themselves. However, security and privacy are less about the technology than they are about the provider. Ensure you retain full ownership of your data so you don't discover the cloud computing provider has been selling off your client lists, and only use colocation services located in the U.S. We take for granted the laws which protect information privacy in this country and may forget that IT operations based in other countries are not covered under those same laws. Choose a respectable and experienced provider, and you won't have to worry about security.
Cloud computing may seem new, but it is simply a different term to describe data center colocation and virtualization technologies which have been around for years. The technology is a viable IT infrastructure solution and is reliable, safe and secure when deployed properly.