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The Concept of the Cloud and Cloud Services

August 8, 2011

The concept of the cloud and cloud services is persuading more and more users—large enterprises, small/medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and consumers—to lay down their IT burdens and move to higher ground. As the cloud-service concept steadily morphs into solid reality, service providers are staking out various positions in this new marketplace with an eye toward creating new revenue streams. Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources.

There are three basic cloud service models: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). In the SaaS model the provider’s applications run on a cloud infrastructure and the user accesses applications from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (web-based e-mail). The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure: network, servers, operating systems, storage or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings.

PaaS deploys onto the cloud consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but does has control over the deployed applications and sometimes over the application hosting environment configurations.

IaaS provides provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer can deploy and run software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and sometimes limited control of select networking components, for example, host firewalls.

Four deployment models

There are four different types of cloud and each has unique characteristics. In a private cloud the infrastructure is operated solely for an organization. It may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

In a community cloud the infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has similar concerns, for example, mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations. It may be managed by the organizations or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

Public cloud infrastructure is available to the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an challenges. Corporations’ and small businesses’ environments are becoming increasingly complex and competitive. Consumers are also more demanding newer and faster products and services and this trend is forcing companies to not only deliver new products or services but to do so rapidly. This demand, which is global, is nudging businesses to become more agile.

The threat of voice traffic from VoIP is also very real. Suppliers are competing with telecoms operators to offer integrated communications packages, notably by developing new applications compatible with fixed, mobile handsets or computers (for example, Skype). The current expansion in permanent connections to the Internet via smartphones and broadband usages such as TV as part of triple-play and quad-play offerings or fixed-line and mobile Internet streaming has already resulted in the saturation of the existing collection and transfer networks.

Consequently, providers have to heavily invest to boost capacity on their collection and transport network. In addition to market saturation in industrialized countries, prices and margins are alsodecreasing for fixed line, broadband Internet and mobile telephony. Telecom carriers delivering new IT services to enterprises and SMBs to generate new revenue streams have become the biggest threat for system integrators and VARs; not only do they own the connectivity, but now by offering IT services this puts them in a position to offer an end-to-end solution.

VARs and system integrators are quickly figuring out new partnerships, and partner to partner  partnering is becoming a new trend. As companies move from having in-house IT services to managed services options they are discovering that they can dramatically benefit from cloud services.

The cloud benefit is twofold: 1) they do not have to invest heavily in IT and HR resources and can allocate their internal resources on the organization’s mission-critical tasks, and 2) they can still efficiently deliver products or services to their customers. IT has always been an asset that has helped companies operate more efficiently. And now global economies are more closely aligned, corporate IT has to adapt quickly to enable rapidly evolving business processes needed by functional entities such as sales, marketing, finance or engineering. The integration of cloud computing technologies is one option to enable this flexibility. Cloud Computing

By Jerome Oriel, ACG Research

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