Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, famously remarked, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” It looks like he might have guessed too many.
Cloud computing is one of the hottest trend in IT. Basically, cloud computing is shifting software and memory resources away from personal computers toward a common network hub shared by many computers. Think YouTube: Years ago, the only way to view video from the Internet was to download the file and play it locally, which meant worrying about incompatible file formats and delays due to long download times. With YouTube, the video is stored and played remotely: a remote server compresses the video and feeds it to your computer after you push play.
Cloud computing is the same concept. The operating system and programs are all stored remotely and shared by users, and most of the computing power is housed at the remote location, drastically reducing the need for processing power at personal computers. In other words, you trade in dozens of complex machines for simple ones, little more than monitors, keyboards, and mouses.
This system has several advantages:
- Cost. Businesses save money everywhere, from the obvious savings of ditching expensive PCs for cheap, stripped-down versions, to software: one piece of software serves everyone, to tech support: cloud systems require much less upkeep as fewer “moving parts” in the system mean less maintenance.
- Increased Productivity. Imagine never worrying about your computer crashing, never worrying about compatibility, and never downloading a plugin or driver again.
- Increased Mobility. With a cloud system, you can access data otherwise stored on your desktop from anywhere in the world, which means being on the road won’t affect productivity and telecommuting is much simpler. Also, you’ll never have to worry about sneaking an encrypted laptop through foreign customs again.
- Tighter Security. Instead of dozens of laptops to protect, there’s only one hardened server. It’s like putting your money in a bank instead of stashing it in a mattress.
- Cloud Systems are Easy to Upgrade. Moore’s law says that processing speed doubles every 18 months, but having dozens of computers in an office makes the task of upgrading to new hardware or software costly and time consuming. Imagine only having to update one machine.
Need proof that cloud computing is the way to go? Just look at Hyper9’s success. Hyper9 is a two-year-old vendor of proprietary platform virtualization software. Normally, a tech-services startup would be fighting for its life against the arctic economic climate, but the company is comfortably in the black.
CTO Dave McCrory explains that economic hardship is driving companies toward virtualization to cut overhead, and Hyper9 produces the software platform needed to manage that kind of system. Companies are scrambling to jump on the cloud computing bandwagon to reap a quick ROI.
“In my 10 years with the company, this is one of the fastest adoptions I’ve seen,” Zane Adam, Microsoft’s senior director of virtualization strategy said of Hyper-V’s, Microsoft’s free cloud-computing platform, rapid uptake. And VMWare, cloud computing’s biggest player, is adding 300 jobs to its 6,300-strong workforce.
Bottom line: Most of us missed the boat on the Internet. Jump on board cloud computing while it’s still cheap.