How to Get the Most Out of Cloud Computing

Are you leveraging the cloud to get the biggest benefit out of it? Now that cloud computing and associated services are woven into the fabric of IT everywhere, a quick review of capabilities might be in order. After all, it would be a shame to think you can only store old system manuals when you might be using it to redevelop your entire supply chain. So here’s a handy checklist for you to see if you’ve taken account of all that’s now on offer to you.

Is It What You Do or How You Do It?

Cloud computing can be categorized in a couple of ways. One way is by functionality. Another is by type of cloud network. Then you can then combine them for even more options. Try for yourself. Use the first list below to see which possibilities interest you. Then multiply each candidate by the options in the second list. If everything in both lists interests you, you’ll end up with 20 different combinations.

Cloud Computing Functionality

  • Online storage. Anything from uploading last week’s pics from the staff barbecue to storing the complete data archives of a corporation. Not only that, but cloud providers will also let you (for a price) run your own virtual data center within their cloud environment.
  • Software as a Service. Is there any type of software application that isn’t available in a multi-tenant, cloud-hosted version that saves customers from having to set up their own installations?  After Salesforce and friends got SaaS rolling with CRM, accounting and other applications, other vendors have been scrambling to do the same. Even Microsoft offers enticing conditions to get customers to use cloud-based MS Office instead of buying standalone software licenses.
  • Web services and interfaces. Many things live in the cloud, including software widgets and components to do almost everything. Even if you want to keep your feet on the ground, APIs to geolocalization, payment processing and other services still let you pick out of a cloud just the bits you want.
  • Processing power (Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service). We’ve bundled PaaS and IaaS together here – hey, you’ve already run out of fingers and toes for multiplying all the possibilities. Basically you run your applications using compute resources in the cloud with the OS and databases you need (PaaS) or leaving you a free hand to install whatever you want (IaaS).
  • Managed services. Feeling lazy – or just plum out of time? Managed cloud services could be the answer, from zapping spam to keeping an eye on the health of your applications. Variations on this theme include expenses management and virtual assistants.

Cloud Computing Networks

  • Public. Amazon, Azure and Rackspace are some of the better-known global names. They exist, they work and they are affordable (in general).
  • Private. Your own cloud that you build. Charge internal users for cloud-type services you provide to them. Good when data confidentiality is paramount or when you have lots of resources of your own that you want to use more efficiently.
  • Hybrid. Use the best of both public and private clouds. As a business for example, use the public cloud to provide access for your customers anywhere, any time. And store their confidential data on your own secure private cloud.
  • Community. Shared cloud computing resources for a group of entities with a common interest. This might be for all automotive suppliers to work together, or for regional health services to pool information.

This is how these lists look today. But cloud computing, like the rest of technology, isn’t standing still. In the future, there will be additional services, functionality and networking available. Stay tuned for more info!