Cloud is the future of IT

Cloud
computing is changing the way consumers and businesses access software and IT
services.

Web
services such as Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook or Flickr are all examples for
cloud-based consumer services, but for businesses the term is wider and
advocates of cloud computing believe that it will change the way computing work
is done and IT services are sourced. In the future IT services could  be provided as a utility just like
electricity or water.

Essentially,
cloud computing is the provision of computer services, whether they are
software applications, IT infrastructure or platforms, on demand via the
Internet (‘the cloud’).

By running
applications on remote servers, rather than local machines, and accessing them
via the Internet businesses can both make savings and increase their
flexibility in the purchase and operation of IT systems.

Typically
business applications such as enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) can be
complex and require data centres, which in turn need office space, servers,
networks, storage, power, cooling and bandwidth. This infrastructure has to be
operated and maintained by a team of experts. When many different applications have
to be run the complexity and cost rises significantly and for smaller
businesses this type of technology can be completely out of reach.

Cloud
computing is touted to be the future because it represents potential cost
savings in terms of server and network infrastructure and facilities that are
no longer needed and replaced by a monthly subscription fee.

In
addition, time consuming updates are done automatically by the service
provider, giving the IT staff  time to
focus on the development of new and the leveraging of existing technology.

While
cloud computing is not new, the big difference today is the increasing reliance
on and reliability of broadband internet.

Most
commonly cloud computing involves the use of web-based applications, accessed
over the Internet through a web-browser, which in terms of usability do not
differ from any software programme that is installed on the machine of the
user.

Robert
Desisto, a researcher with Gartner, sees three primary reasons for companies
to look at this type of software as a service or SaaS. The main concern for
small businesses is limited IT resources, he says. In combination with the
small capital expenditure that is required for software rental via the web as
opposed to the outright purchase and operation of software and server
infrastructure, services can be more easily consumed from an operating expense
perspective.

New
software can also be deployed much more quickly, Desisto says. He believes that
small and medium sized businesses will see the value of cloud computing sooner
as their requirements are generally less complex.

In Cayman,
offshore IT service provider Ignition recently launched IVOC a new cloud based
service in cooperation with Digicel. Through Ignition’s virtual office cloud
clients obtain access to a suite of Microsoft Office, Exchange and Sharepoint
products and subscribe to use the web-based software applications on a monthly
basis for a specified number of users. IVOC is targeting companies with 2 to
100 staff members, which account for the majority of businesses in the Cayman
Islands.

According
to Ignition’s CEO Graham Pearson the cloud offers particularly small and medium
sized businesses access to infrastructure that would typically be out of their
reach given their budget limitations.

With the
current economic environment the offering of cloud based services is timely,
says Pearson, as it gives businesses more financial control over their IT
expenditure. “It is just one less thing companies want to worry about.”

In
addition to IVOC, Ignition offers the virtualisation and back-up of a company’s
industry specific data and software such as fund administration, trust systems
or Quickbooks, by taking them to a server in a secure location where only the
business can access the applications via an encrypted Internet connection.

These
cloud based services also complement Ignition’s records management services
that comprise the organisation and filing of electronic and hard-copy
documents. 

 Pearson sayssmall and medium sized offshore companies will
be quicker to make use of this type of IT provision.

Partly
because local offices often work very differently from the head office with
different applications and operating procedures while travel and the need for
secure remote access to the company’s systems are much more prevalent offshore.
“Offshore we are forcing ourselves down the cloud route because it is so much
easier for us to do it here. It is a much better fit.”

Pearson
also expects prices for applications will be driven down significantly over
time.

In the
cloud space Ignition will have to compete with the industry’s big players such
as Microsoft, Google or Amazon who all have come out with their own cloud-based
applications .These companies will compete on a big scale and at a low price.
“They will give it away, sell it for $10 per user per month,” he says.

The
downside is that they are short on customer service. “Their model is massive
data centres, sold via the web and very little interface. Our offer is, yes we
can give you all those Microsoft apps, but we can also run your core
applications that you need to get clouded as well,” explains Pearson.
“Otherwise you are sort of half-way pregnant you can’t just run Microsoft
Office and then you still run an accounting system, for which you need a server.”

This is
where Ignition sees its niche. “To get into the cloud fully you have to do both
and that is where I think the boutique offshore cloud players come in as
opposed to the heavy hitters being the Amazons, the Googles and the
Microsofts,” Pearson says.

 

0
0

NO COMMENTS