This article is the third in a series featuring our commentary on each of the Big 5 IT Trends of the Next Half Decade (original article from ZDNet). The third IT Trend is Cloud computing. I recently interviewed Stuart Avera, Vice President and partner of Nexxtep Technology Services, to get his thoughts on what the future holds for cloud computing.
1. What are some advantages to adopting cloud computing, other than cost reduction?
Probably scalability; adding users or removing users easily is a huge advantage. Security is also another advantage, although you could argue there are some disadvantages here as well. But one way cloud computing offers security is through offsite data backups. The key to maintaining security with the cloud services you use is to choose reliable vendors.
2. How can you tell if a vendor is reliable?
Do your homework. Visit their website. If they’re publicly traded, study their financials. Check their ranking with the Better Business Bureau. Make sure they’ve been around for a while and proven to be a stable company. You’re safe with the big guys like Google and Microsoft. However, even big cloud companies can go down fast. Just look at what happened to Netflix; they lost over 800,000 subscribers this week.
3. Right now, businesses mostly use the cloud for non-mission-critical apps. Why is that?
Businesses rely on certain applications to work at all times, and when bandwidth is limited, applications don’t necessarily work. Things that are not as time sensitive, like backups and email, work great in the cloud because you can afford to have short periods of downtime with those applications. Other applications, like an inventory system in a pharmacy, can’t afford to ever be down.
4. What is a private cloud?
Implementing a private cloud means taking all of a company’s applications and loading them onto private server. Each employee can then access those applications from their computers, smartphones or tablets, from anywhere in the world—as long as they have an internet connection. Only the employees will have access to their private cloud and the hardware the cloud runs on, so it’s possibly more secure and faster than using public cloud services that rely on shared computing.
I think that the combination of private and public cloud is the hybrid solution that will take over for the foreseeable future. Businesses will get the best of both worlds. Right now cloud-based computing is very cookie cutter. Eventually it will evolve to meet the complex needs of businesses.
5. What is the next big thing in cloud computing?
Devices will continually become a blur. How you access your applications will continue to evolve. Applications that rely on cloud computing will be available on devices that we may not have thought of in the past. For example, vehicles are integrating cloud services into their dashboards. From a business perspective, cloud services that depend upon social networks for gathering information will help organizations make faster decisions.