Cloud Computing – Being on it and Staying Updated

Even though the latest corporate rush for cloud computing solutions may make us believe that it is a new phenomena, cloud computing was born the day email clients were opened to internet users.

As per a survey by SpamTitan, almost 69% of online users use cloud solutions. Be it for email storage, picture uploading or file sharing through sites like RapidShare, cloud computing is a rapidly evolving computing intelligence with the power of enhancing endpoint computing, optimizing device capabilities and lowering technological expenditure made on storage and hosting devices.

With its genesis traceable to consumer centric solutions, cloud computing has evolved to become a game changing technological solution for any business. It facilitates virtualization at a ‘nickel and dime’ cost. Post recession, the buzz has spread like fire and everyday a new application is being invented or, if we may say, ‘discovered.’

As per the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Cloud Security Alliance, cloud, in essence, is a computing model that facilitates network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources, such as servers, storage devices or applications. In other terms, it can be considered as a solution in which the entire computation occurs through the internet. The highlight is that the user need not have the resources in-house, rather use a third party platform on consumption basis payouts.

Evolution of Cloud Computing Technologies

From just email clients to fully operational CRMs and Google Apps, cloud computing has evolved from being an end user centric technology to being a complete business technology assistant.

Software as a Service (SaaS) has become the most sought after service model due to its cost advantages. IT companies are developing turnkey projects with server supports to enable their buyers to buy just the licenses and use the software through a browser based interface.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

While for common users, the benefits of cloud computing have not evolved much and are limited to sharing files and storing data, it’s the corporate world that is leveraging the technology to the fullest.

Right from Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to private clouding, public clouding or hybrid clouding, enterprises all over the world have realized the true potential of clouds.

Some of the benefits are:

Reduced cost: As the entire platform gets centralized to (mostly) a third party provider, there is no need of investing in expensive infrastructure such as servers or storage assets. The payment is based on a pay per service model.
Increased storage: As the entire process runs in clouds, one can integrate available storage assets with the storage in the cloud to enhance data governance and management.
Highly automated: The focus shifts from managing in-house IT support to automating the process, without worrying about infrastructural costs.
Mobility: Employees get to access business intelligence from anywhere, anytime across all heterogeneous computing devices.
Instigates innovation: As IT is freed from regular maintenance, the focus shifts to the maintenance of other mission critical resources.
Access to the latest technology: Whereas a few years ago, hosting a heavy application would have been a distant dream for a small business enterprise, cloud computing gives access to high end technology interface with minimum investment.
Unparalleled collaboration: Rather than investing in convergence technologies, business can virtualize every step of their mission critical process, enabling greater collaboration and team work. This enables information sharing, editing, revision and the last stages of approval as well.

As more possibilities are being explored, new applications of cloud computing are getting discovered. Therefore, besides being present in the clouds, staying updated about the latest innovation has become pivotal for the success of a business.

5 Computer-Oriented Corporate Gift Ideas

Your clients love computer technology. They work on their computers all day long, and many go home and play with their computers into the night. They are “techies” in every sense of the word, and you want to honor that by giving them corporate gifts that they can use with their technological passion. That means you are looking for gifts like these listed below.

1. Flash Drives

You can buy very basic flash drives, keychain flash drives, or flash drives in a rainbow of colors. These are never useless to someone who spends a good bit of time working on computers, especially if they transport their work between home and work or have to transfer files to client computers on occasion. Get flash drives embellished with your logo and you have the perfect corporate gift. It looks effortless when you hand it out, yet it is so convenient you know they will use it.

2. Wireless Computer Mouse

You can get these in different colors, so you can find something that will make your logo stand out on the top or sides. This is not the cheapest way to go for corporate gifts, but it is something that will be used at some point by those who are really into computers. They use a mouse every day, so this is a great way to get your logo under their thumb…literally!

3. Neoprene Laptop Sleeves

These are the sleeves that pad the laptop inside the laptop case, reducing the chances of damage. Those who carry laptops around will need these at all times, so it is a great corporate gift for your computer-oriented clients. You could even use this as a holiday gift for employees in your technical support department.

4. USB Port Hubs

You can find some really amusing USB port hubs out there. There are some that come in chains of connected pieces, kind of like puzzle pieces that can be moved around and folded. You can also find more sophisticated USB port hubs, such as those in silver cases that open up to reveal the ports. Just like the flash drives, this is something that those who work and play with computers will always find a way to use. It could even be something that meets a function need for them at some point. What you know for sure is that it is not something they will throw out.

5. Desktop Organizers

This is a general category of corporate gifts, with many options available. You can find something functional and a bit on the stylish side, that way you know your clients will want to put them out on their desks. They may not end up on their work desk where others in the industry will see it, but it could certainly end up on their private desk at home. This at least keeps your logo in front of an important client’s eyes on a daily basis.

There might be other corporate gifts out there for those who love computers, but these are five of the best ideas you are going to find anywhere. If you work with a lot of clients who make computer technology their life, you may purchase a variety of these items and create a small gift basket for those who are important to your business.

Cloud Computing In Corporate Environments

Under constant pressure to control costs while responding to the ever increasing demands of their internal customers, good corporate technology managers stay aware of existing and emerging technologies which can make their lives easier.

In recent years cloud computing has grown in popularity. It allows reductions in headcount and hardware assets, and can lead to speedier service deployment.

Cloud computing is essentially the outsourcing of the computing platform. There are many costs associated with the traditional information technology department’s approach to providing computing services. The software for a particular application may be purchased off the shelf, custom developed by external resources, or developed in house. Computers, known as servers, run the application software. The servers are kept in climate control rooms, where special equipment networks the servers together. For all but the smallest applications, infrastructure software enables the servers to communicate and track user sessions efficiently. In addition to all this a small army of technicians are retained, including specialists for application software, hardware acquisition and maintenance, networking, and infrastructure software. The term “cloud computing” is used by different people to mean different things, but it always involves outsourcing some or all of what is needed to provide a computing service.

With Software as a Service, often referred to as “SaaS”, the entire application, including all hardware, software and support, is provided by an external vendor. End users connect to the provider’s servers over the Internet. Implementation and deployment could not be easier: there is none.

Typically the customer pays a monthly per user fee. There are some downsides to consider. The service provider has complete control of the customer’s data, so the customer cannot be certain the data is being kept secure. The vendor can change an application without the customer’s awareness. Also the vendor may unexpected go offline temporarily or even permanently. Contractual obligations can protect the customer against these scenarios, but there remains the possibility of short term disruption.

With dedicated server rentals a vendor provides the hardware, the networking equipment and the associated maintenance, and the customer provides the rest.

This eliminates a number of headaches, although the customer is responsible for the application and all other software on the server. For smaller applications, a virtual private server (VPS) rental may be appropriate. Sophisticated virtualization software allows multiple server instances to run on a single physical server. To the customer, a VPS is indistinguishable from a low powered dedicated server.

Why Cloud Computing Is Important

Help Companies Save Money

Companies can save a lot of money in their investment into cloud computing technologies that can help organizations take the burden of acquisition of servers, software, and people that are needed to stand up enterprise services, shared technology solutions, and deployment of customized or custom off the shelf solutions that are needed to support mission requirements of the enterprise.These solutions that are normally performed “in-house” within the boundaries of the organization can now be performed by outside vendors that specialize in niche technologies allowing them to provide cheaper solutions to their customers. These vendors have the resources, servers, software, and infrastructure in place that are needed to provide a specialized service to an organization. Companies end up saving more money because they do not have to do all the work that is required to set up the service, they just sign up with the vendor and outsource the service to the third-party that manages the technology that is delivered to their clients.

Help Small Business Become More Efficient

The economy is making it really difficult for small businesses to compete with mid-size and large scale organizations to gain new customers in their industry. These new customers allow companies to gain revenue which leads to organizations investing in their technologies to improve their efficiencies. When you are a small business, the chances are that you are getting a smaller piece of the revenue in your industry. The assumption could be made that small business can not afford the technology that is needed to compete with the large companies to improve their competitiveness. When you are purchase software, you have to purchase the hardware, and resources to support the service. This can add up to a lot of expense for an enterprise service for an organization and can make it impossible for a company to even think about a technology product. Cloud computing is a technology that is changing the game all together in how small businesses are now able to compete with larger companies. Cloud computing allows companies to buy into a service because the infrastructure is hosted by the vendor. The company can pay for more licences as their business grows but they will be able to get the software that is needed to allow their company to prosper.

Help Save the Environment

Organizations that implement cloud computing technologies can have a significant impact on their ability to reduce their electricity bills dramatically. If you ever seen your company’s data center, you could see up to hundreds or more servers depending on size of your company’s business. Each of these servers generates heat and if they generate to much heat then the servers stop working. When servers stop working then mission critical applications go down and this leads to a lot of customers complaining to the help desk. Data centers have built in cooling systems to help keep the room cool and at certain humidity. All of this cost the company a lot of money to keep the servers running at optimal performance. Now, if each organization has a data center and each has their own cooling system this is leading to a lot of electricity that is being used to keep all of these data centers running around the world. Cloud computing helps save the environment because it is shared infrastructure resources that a vendor provides to an organization. Cloud computing vendors that specialize in infrastructure service have built up data centers around the country and offer their data centers to other companies. Companies do not need to have their own data centers, they can just have their applications hosted with the cloud computing provider to help save energy through sharing resources.

Access to Information Anywhere at Anytime

The Internet and cloud computing technology is a winning combination. These two technologies have allowed vendors to develop a product called “cloud drives”; which is an online storage medium that allow people to save their documents, videos, photos, and music over the Internet. The advantages of a cloud drive is that it provides the capability for people to access their information from any computer around the globe at anytime during the day. This type of simple technology allows people to become more productive by improving their access to information. There are a number of vendors that have entered the cloud computing market to offer cloud drives such as Google, Amazon, and Dropbox to name a few. These cloud drives have built in security, a file directory system that people are familiar with navigating, the capability to upload your files from your computer to your cloud drive, the capability to download your file from your cloud drive to your computer, and share your files with other people that you grant access to your account. The access to information is going to play a key role in the workforce’s ability to telecommute remotely for organizations to save on facility costs. This is going to be the next big trend for companies as they try to reduce their expenses by finding alternative ways to cut their expenses to fight lost revenues because of the economy. We just provided an example in how technology can help companies make their workforce more mobile, productive, and collaborative by using the cloud.

Cloud Computing Solutions Are Easy to Use

The reason why cloud computing is catching on is because of the simplicity that vendors have been integrating solutions to use this technology in the first place. If you ever had the chance to access your email such as Outlook or Gmail then you know how simple it is to access a cloud services. People like simplicity, excellent customer service, and more sophistication in the services that they are receiving from companies. As long as vendors make it this simple and enjoyable to access cloud technologies then it will become more integrated with other products. Ease of use means more product adoption which equates to more reasons why cloud computing is important.

Increased Demand for Resources

As the demand for cloud resources continue to grow then there will be the need to develop a workforce to continue to innovate, cultivate, and maintain the services to meet customer demand. This will have a dramatic effect on the information technology market that is looking for new ways to develop opportunities in a weak economy. The need to grow these resources will have a trickle effect on the institutions and trade schools that will develop curriculums to meet the training requirements that are needed to fill the void for these requirements. Companies will then also develop their own certification standards and develop governance procedures to manage how people get certified in their products. The increased need for a technology increases not only the need for resources but education and dollars that are associated with the services that are delivered. Innovation and ideas are important to our economy and the cloud is proving to be the next big idea.

Integrate Part of a Disaster Recovery Solution

Organizations need to protect their critical data to ensure that they can provide services to their customers and that can continue their daily operations to support their corporate mission. Most companies develop a disaster and recovery plan that discusses the necessary steps that they need to take for any type of events that the company may face. The company prepares for these events by having an alternative computing facility to save mission critical data for the organization at some remote location away from the corporate headquarters. Companies also routinely take full and incremental backups on a daily and weekly basis that is stored on some type of storage storage device. Companies can now integrate cloud computing as a type of storage device that they can integrate with their disaster recovery plan in addition to their other methods that they are using to save their data. Having a cloud storage solution helps provide additional safeguard procedures to help ensure that customer data will be safe and that your organization will continue to operate based on any type of event.

Will Lead to New Product and Platform Innovation

The need for new product ideas and innovation is critical to the success and growth of the global economy. These new product innovations can come from improving on older technologies or collaborating with existing technologies to form new ones. Cloud computing is positioned to be an important ingredient that companies can use to bundle with other services that can provide customers with new experiences. The number of possibilities that companies can combine with cloud computing is infinite and we are excited about the future innovations that may rise from this technology. We are already seeing innovations from companies such as Amazon, Google, Rackspace, IBM, and Microsoft. Cloud computing is new technology that has just begun to assemble the policies, technologies, disciplines and is not at a mature state yet. There is so much potential to grow this domain forward and it will be exciting to see what will happen in the next ten years in the evolution of the cloud. We expect to see more synergies from different technologies and possibly more collaborations from vendors in offering customers better solutions.

Mr. Singh is an MBA that has been involved in leading, motivating, strategizing, and developing people to better perform their jobs to support the mission objectives of their organization. Mr. Singh has lead several major project implementations and is currently leading an enterprise architecture department in a leading consulting corporation.