Evolution of #cloud computing

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How technology has evolved in business and created Cloud Computing


  • 1. Cloud Computing is nothing new, it's been around for a very very long time.One could argue that the original mainframe machines were early Cloudcomputers running thin client applications to dumb-terminals. But the termand current definition of Cloud Computing is new and it's risen out ofstandardisation, virtualisation and the Internet generation.The Evolution of Cloud ComputingBefore we had standard protocols, such as Ethernet, IP or SMTP, themajor Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM's) had their own protocols,hardware and software. They were mainly hardware companies that hadtechnical expertise in developing 'transport' layers for communicating betweendevices. It was a nightmare for everyone for one simple reason; no twodifferent OEM devices could interconnect. Devices would only talk to otherdevices from the same manufacturer that ran the same protocols. Thereality was that OEM's were spending R&D budget on developing protocols,hardware and software, so the pace of product development and time tomarket was rather slow.Basically IT was very expensive, very clunky, very specialist and technical verycomplex.Standardisation in ITA major breakthrough was with the adoption of common standards. TheInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) was the main drivingforce behind the development and adoption of Ethernet for example, a muchneeded and now the de facto LAN standard.Additionally organisations like the IOS (International Organisation forStandardisation) developed interconnect frameworks such as the Open SystemInterconnect, better known to many as the OSI 7 layer stack; which essentiallybreaks-down the fundamentals of how technology at all levels is built, fromphysical 'plumbing' such as the actual plug you use (RJ45 for example), to theNetwork; like Ethernet, to the transport layer like TCP/IP right up to thepresentation and application layer.A brave new world for the OEM'sThese standardisations were significant for OEM's mainly because they didn'thave to focus on trying to develop protocols and standards of their own. Theycould now focus on what they were trying to build; machines.But as machines became more powerful through advances in processing powerand storage, OEM's also began to evolve. They soon found that rather thanbeing 80% a hardware company and 20% software, over a relatively short

2. period of time, this was reversed.Suddenly the role of hardware was to support and run applications. Biginternal battles for power and control were fought in corporate offices andinside the OEM's, battles between the die-hard electronic engineers and thesoftware programmers, these battles still continue today, in organisations whodesign and manufacture hardware in-house.The Internet and the CTONext came the Internet along with advances in network protocols suchas ATM and latterly MPLS. Along with the Internet came more challenges, likesecurity. The reality was that most organisations didn't really know what theInternet meant for them, how to use or why they needed it. E-commerce, e-procurement,ERP, CRM, JIT (Just In Time) production, were all slowly beingadopted. With clunky user-interfaces, poorly deployed, highly personalisedand massively expensive, initially these applications caused as manychallenges as they solved.But along with the evolution in applications came a realisation and majortransformation in the large businesses that adopted them. The realisation wassimple for many businesses; they were transforming into IT companies. Take abank, a supermarket, a car manufacturer, where are they without IT?Handicapped; and if they went without IT for any length of time they would beout of business.The lasting result of this evolutionary phase was the birth and fast rise toprominence of the CTO, who quickly became an internal powerhouse,commanding a huge percentage of operational budget.The CTO's AgendaBottom line; the CTO is responsible for keeping the IT lights green. The buckstops with them.It is their responsiblity to secure and protect the electronic assets of theorganisation, to make sure that in case of a disaster, the organisation can keeprunning. To ensure data flows between departments, stakeholders inside andout and between business processes. And when an organisations goes througha merger or acquisition, it's the CTO who has to integrate the businesses andall the processes so they can realise the rationalisation and operationalbenefits.The CTO is also held accountable by the Board and shareholders for achievingthis ideal state. 3. So how did Cloud Computing come about?Organisations needed connectivity between offices so their people could haveaccess to the knowledge, systems and processes that now powered theorganisation.But this was no simple task. Commonly organisations would have theapplications hosted in HQ and then have all the users accessing these systemsover the corporate WAN. So this was really and internal 'private' cloud. Butthis caused plenty of challenges, just consider security for example, suddenlyyour entire corporate network was now only as strong as the weakest element(or individual user)! Additionally the network required to support this huband spoke design is immense, needing to support peak usage.Planning, designing, gesturing budget and implementing network designs andupgrades was a major under taking and a never-ending cycle. More and morebusiness applications would be added that required more bandwidth. Moreand more data is being created, shared and stored, 90% of the worldselectronic data was created in the last 2 years alone, think about what thatmeans for someone trying to manage a network!So many CTO's turned to the cloud to help them overcome some of thechallenges they face. Cloud Computing offers the ability for an organisation to'Host' a service anywhere, and allow users to have access to the service. So thatcould be onsite (inside a corporate organisation) in a 'private' cloud, or with aCloud Service Provider. They either provide the physical elements, such asspace, connectivity and power, or they deliver a fully managed service whichcan be consumed by the organisation on a pay per user model.For example, rather than an organisation buying an application, a server (ortwo for resiliency) security, databases, anti-virus, then installing, configuring,testing, deploying, managing, fixing, upgrading, adding, changing, moving andmaintaining. They can pay a price per user per month to consume a pre-builtservice.This may be a simplified view for some readers, but its clear to see why manyCTO's push services to the Cloud in one form or another. Cloud is beingadopted, it is significant and will continue to be a major platform of choice formany organisations. The main software vendors continue to invest heavily inCloud technologies, Microsoft have been investing around 90% of their$9.6bn R&D budget annually into areas such as Windows Azure, MicrosoftLync and Office 365. These investment amounts into R&D aren't showing anysigns of reducing.Cloud Computing, coming of ageTheir are many benefits of Cloud Computing for organisations and several keydrivers which are well understood and have eloped over a long period of time. 4. But interestingly areas such as Bring Your Own Device (a term and trendresulting from the launch of the tablet) has help accelerate the demand forCloud service, but has also raised even more concern over data protection andsecurity.Additionally, the next generation of school and university leavers areprogressing through the corporate ranks, they seem unfamiliar with the bluescreen of death and the windows sand timer! They expect to be able to workhowever, wherever and whenever they want.Technology has been flipped; people had to flex around technology, essentiallyworking for it, putting up with it's inflexibility which has been protected bycorporate security policy's and stubborn IT managers. Now however, we haveaccess to a limitless array of applications and if we want, we can even createour own.This is creating mayhem for IT managers, who shudder at applications likeDropbox. Suddenly employees can get around the 6mb limit on emailattachments, by dropping the file into Dropbox and sending a link or sharing afolder. That basically means the very data the IT managers are trying toprotect has effectively been uploaded to a completely uncontrolled platformand shared with someone using an external service.So now the CTO needs to build a clear strategy that incorporates how userswork, rather than dictating it to them.So for reasons of flexibility, security, data protection, agility and cost, manyorganisations are embracing Cloud Computing. Ironically moving to amodernised version of the mainframe set-up, whereby computers are nolonger needed on a users desk, instead, they have a dumb-terminal (now calledZero clients or a VDI unit). That essentially means that the full desktop andoperating system is virtualised and delivered to a user; Desktop as a Service.So your Windows operating system and Microsoft Office Suite can now run ona server as a virtual computer just for you, with access from a Zero client, anysmart device or a web browser.All your business applications and data can be virtualised too and accessiblevia your virtual Desktop as a Service. This new eco-system gives control backto the corporate IT team, but allows users much wider access than before.With the IT design, build, deploy, manage model being disrupted, for the firsttime in a while IT staff can actually focus on adding value to the organisation,rather than being run ragged trying to keep the lights green and keep up withthe pace of growth.So Cloud Computing offers something of value to CTO's, it gives them aplatform they can build their business systems on in a much more structuredway and without some of the day to day challenges. Cloud Computing still has 5. a long way to go and many hurdles still await, but we are at a point in timewhere Cloud service are having significant benefits to businesses and its clearthat the trend to move to Cloud will continue for some time to come. 6. a long way to go and many hurdles still await, but we are at a point in timewhere Cloud service are having significant benefits to businesses and its clearthat the trend to move to Cloud will continue for some time to come.