It’s Cloudy Over the Internet — Cloud Computing and Digital Transformation
Not even 20 years ago the Internet was in its infancy, a playground for tech-savvy pioneers who knew how to search a directory and FTP a file.
Then things changed and the adulthood of the Internet has come about for many reasons, all of them supporting a single conceptual advance: we broke the barrier between hardware and software. Our videos, e-mails and every digit of our bank accounts, social security numbers, and credit cards are spread across thousands of servers controlled by hundreds of companies.
Welcome to cloud computing. We’ve been thrown into the future by the powerful convergence of widespread broadband access, increased adoption of mobile devices enabling near-constant Internet connectivity, and hundreds of innovations that have made data centers much easier to build and run. For most of us, physical storage may well become obsolete in the next few years, and for some of us it already is. We can now run intensive computing tasks on someone else’s servers cheaply, or even for free.
The attraction of the business world began first, in the year 2000, when Salesforce.com started hosting software for interacting with customers that a client could rebrand as its own. Customers’ personal details, of course, went straight into Salesforce’s databases. Since then, hundreds of companies have turned their old physical products into virtual services or invented new ones by harnessing the potential of cloud computing.
Consumers on the other hand were tempted four years later, thanks to Google with Gmail, a free online e-mail service with unprecedented amounts of storage space. Of course, Google is a business, and their reasoning was as simple as it was effective: store your e-mail with us for free, and in exchange our technology will scan your prose. The idea of free storage was enough to get even the most privacy conscious users onboard.
Gmail’s infinite storage was just the start. The program’s developers also included a useful new feature. Now they could roll out updates whenever they wanted or needed to, guaranteeing that Gmail users were all in sync without having to visit a Web site to download and install an update. This same principle was extended and applied to the collaborative editing tools of Google Docs, which moved users’ documents into the browser with no need for backups to a hard drive. “Six years ago”-before the launch of Docs-”office productivity on the Web wasn’t even an idea,” recalls Rajen Sheth, a product manager at Google.
Back to the business side of things. Many organizations are moving some or all of the technology operations to the cloud to reap the various benefits it can provide, such as flexibility, scalability, and affordability.
The cloud computing relationship should positively impact most organizations’ ability to achieve strategic objectives effectively and efficiently. Recently, Deloitte determined: “Companies across industries are modernizing their data platforms to leverage new-age applications and advanced analytics at the same time as they are moving their data to the cloud.” That same Deloitte study suggested that cloud and data modernization are highly interrelated and actually reinforce each other.
The cloud allows organizations to rapidly adopt technological solutions, scaling up or down as needed to provide executives the necessary flexibility to respond to changes in the marketplace and the economy.
Simply put, the cloud environment makes it easier to just get things done. The price of running 10 servers for 1000 hours is identical to running 1000 machines for 10 hours-a flexibility that doesn’t exist in most corporate server rooms. Virtualization can address many of the problems that had begun to plague the IT industry not so long ago. For one thing, servers commonly operated at as little as a tenth of their capacity, according to International Data Corp., because key applications each had a dedicated server. It was a way of limiting vulnerabilities because true disaster-proofing was essentially unaffordable.
Nevertheless, as organizations continue to enhance their vendor management relationship maturity, they continue to face challenges in managing their cloud service provider (CSP).
For many organizations, the good news is that, just as they do with other business risks, understanding and effectively governing cloud computing threats by managing cloud activities within their acceptable risk tolerances will drive enterprise value.
Digital transformation requires cloud computing and the need to manage the various enterprise risks associated with cloud computing. Middleware solutions such as Database Plus developed by SphereEx, or the Open-Source version Apache ShardingSphere, allow enterprises to insert a layer between their system and their cloud infrastructure and attain substantial benefits.
Considering the significant potential opportunities, some organizations have adopted a cloud-first strategy. The idea is to consider, or even give preference, to a cloud-based solution over traditional in-house data center strategies.
A publication survey of technical professionals conducted by O’Reilly, a leading publisher of technology media, revealed that a “surprising number of respondents-approximately 25%-said that their companies plan to move all of their applications to a cloud context in the next year. This includes 17% of respondents from large organizations (i.e. over 10,000 employees) that have already moved 100% of their applications to the cloud” (“Cloud Adoption in 2020,” O’Reilly).
Digital Transformation utilizing cloud computing is paramount to retain a competitive advantage, especially if we consider that current technological development is advancing at a quicker rate than ever before in history. Businesses have a lot of options when it comes to choosing their cloud service provider.
Below are the major factors why a business should consider investing in cloud computing:
1) Financial and IT resources
Cloud computing allows to minimize compute, storage, and database expenses, thus enabling cheaper IT environments that can scale without over-supply. Moving dedicated in-house infrastructure also allows for cost and human resource saving. IT staff can focus their attention to higher level operations and strategic initiatives, instead of regular assistance.
2) Increased Speed & Agility
Cost effective on-demand services IT services allow users to quickly handle business opportunities, improve user productivity and operational efficiency.
Both Startups and more established companies looking to minimize risk and avoid jeopardizing their infrastructure investment, can find the ideal solution in cloud computing.
4) Minimizing Business Risk
Cloud computinggreatly improves IT safety and resiliency, which in turns directly positively affects business risk on availability, security, and compliance:
i. The easy deployment of clusters guarantees more resources for performance.
ii. Maximize availability while reducing the effect of reliable failover services.
iii. Automatic scaling prevents problems with performance.
iv. Workload balancing capabilities efficiently distribute traffic and improve resilience and latency.
5) High Productivity
Middleware solutions such as the ones developed by SphereEx, or the Open-Source project Apache ShardingSphere, reduce the burden and dangers of containing internal IT systems by supporting your cloud computing. Additionally, your IT support workers will thank you for it, as they save time and money in the long run for your organization.
Yacine Si Tayeb
SphereEx International Operations Manager
Apache ShardingSphere Contributor
Passionate about technology and innovation, Yacine moved to Beijing to pursue his Ph.D. in Business Administration, and fell in awe of the local startup and tech scene. His career path has so far been shaped by opportunities at the intersection of technology and business. Recently he took on a keen interest in the development of the ShardingSphere database middleware ecosystem and Open-Source community building.
ShardingSphere Github: https://github.com/apache/shardingsphere
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