Cloud Basics

I found a great article on Cloud Basics on the MYOB blog. I thought I would expand a bit on it.

Questions people ask include:

  • What is the Cloud?
  • Why is everyone ‘going Cloud’?
  • Why should I ‘go Cloud’?

What is Cloud?

Cloud is a new way that IT systems and software will be setup. Its sometimes called the ‘Utiliy’ model, because like water, electricity, gas and the phone you basically ‘connect and go’. The services are also based on a usage model, the more you use the more you pay, but you can vary usage.

Cloud services can be divided into three main categories. Software as a service (SaaS); infrastructure as a service (IaaS); and platform as a service (PaaS).

SaaS – Software as a service

Hotmail, Gmail are cloud email services. CRM systems include, SugarCRM and Microsoft Dynamics. ERP systems include NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics. Cloud based telephony includes Skype, plus a myriad of SMS services. In essence, much innovation in software is taking place in the cloud.

IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service

IaaS is essentially offsite hosting. Businesses and services that require lots of computer power can now utilise large external computer farms and hosting services rather than build their own. This means that you likely don’t need to invest in large CAPEX  projects and maintain onsite infrastructure. IaaS allows businesses and services to keep their costs down. Its typically how startups begin working on projects nowadays. The traditional hosting providers have moved into this market, whereby more than 50% of new server hardware is sold to  hosting firms rather than directly to businesses. The bigger vendors include Amazon, Rackspace, NextDC, Equinix, GlobalSwitch.

PaaS – platform as a Service

A PaaS solution often provides the foundations of Cloud solutions. A PaaS is often used for application hosting, development, deployment and testing. Essentially a PaaS solution allows developers to rent services and servers to make their SaaS a reality. PaaS platforms include Amazon AWS suite,  Heroku, Microsoft Azure, cloud foundry, OpenShift

Why is everyone ‘going Cloud’?

Some good reasons for going cloud can be found in our Compare Cloud and On-site CRM guidebook. In essence the benefits come down to:

  • Accessibility – access any system that can be accessed via the Internet – PC or phone
  • Easy – web access means that the platform is less of an issue, and there is less hard coding.
  • Reduced Infrastructure costs – most server environments run at less that 35% capacity – you buy system capacity for the one a month peaks. Cloud allows you to rent the capacity – so saving money.
  • Maintenance – cloud systems are designed for on the fly updates and upgrades.
  • Innovation & Flexibility – it is changing the way that IT departments look at developing new systems, taking the reduced effort in running systems and applying them to building new systems – quickly.

Why should my business go Cloud?

The benefits of businesses going Cloud, it has similar benefits for users.

  •  Anywhere access on any number of devices means that you can be as connected as you want to be.
  • Use an application from anywhere. Having your information in the Cloud lets you access and use it wherever you can connect to the Internet.
  • Disaster recovery and data back-up. Typically there will be 2 or 3 copies of data, in different locations
  • Maintenance, updates and upgrades become a thing of the past.




Big Guns of Cloud Plans for Australia

Every Systems Integrator in Australia is busily launching their ‘cloud’ plans – including HP, IBM and Fujitsu. Applications vendors have also entered the fray with Oracle to host their CRM on-demand solution locally – initially for Government.

The key selling points are better local customer service, local storage and faster performance. Local storage is very important to many companies. This is a key trend in the ERP market and covered in our ERP Trends Guidebook.

There are various models with Macquarie Telecom launching their IaaS ( Infrastructure as a Service) service under the “Ninefold” brand.

At a recent CloudCamp in Sydney it was openly discussed that the tow “Big Guns” of the IaaS market are expected in this market in the next 18 months or so. Both Rackspace and Amazon EC2 are slated.