Moving to cloud

161Business applications are moving to the cloud! We have shifted from traditional software models to the Internet and this has steadily gained momentum over the past decade. The future of many businesses will be moving to the cloud in the next few years.  The IT brains in the world have shown way to the business world that computing is a viable option to almost any business, due to the ease of locating and storing files and information on it. It shows no signs of stopping. Instead of moving to a single cloud, firms could move to an interconnected “world of many clouds”. This will give people access to cloud services any time, on any device, anywhere in the world. Wow, imagine the tremendous progress we all could have in our daily routines.

Cloud computing has been existing since past few years; it existed by a dozen other names-such as virtualization, managed hosting, or simply the Internet. Today, it’s the must-have feature of every product or service, from mobile phones to cameras to TVs

Technology investors are raising the tempo of investments in cloud computing startups due to   strong returns and growing160 customer demand for software as a service. Venture funds are geared up to fund more and more deals in the IT sector in cloud computing. Many startups are focusing on healthcare business for billing and management of patient data with a base of trillions of patient records. The hospitality segment also will get a push due to the cloud-based reservation and distribution along with revenue management solutions for hotels.

In the month of December 2012, aiming to provide health care in remote areas and generate data for research and policy-making, Union Minister for Science and Technology Jaipal Reddy launched a cloud-connected e-Health Centre in Kaithal district of Haryana. Customized in unused shipping containers with high-end cloud-connectivity for video and audio links, the e-Health Centers can be rapidly deployed at any place.

Investors with innovative mindset and fascination for new technology and expertise are racing to get ahead of the next wave and pick up great opportunities in the cloud. They want to grab their chunk in the business before such business valuations rise and competition increases. Cloud computing offers ease and low cost of transactions hence it is very appealing for applications especially in the hospitality and healthcare segments. The startups offer products where information is stored and processed on computers ‘in the cloud’, or the web, instead of local servers. This data can then be remotely accessed through a personal computer, cell phone or any other device, with users typically paying for the service only when they use it.

162Computing giant IBM is keen to regain ground lost to Amazon and Google who were quicker to market with their cloud propositions. To this end, IBM has opened its 26th cloud centre in Spain at a cost of $8 million. By making greater investment in cloud infrastructure, IBM can improve their global coverage, service offering, competitiveness and price.

SAP Hana has developed a new touch screen vending machine that uses cloud software technologies to provide a value-added experience for consumers. The vending machine has a Smartphone inside so we transmit every single transaction to the cloud and then we can run analytics. The cloud is perfect for analytics processing as it scales to meet demand, without requiring capital investment up front.

Companies today are cutting costs to either increase bottom-line or reduce the impact of a strained top line situation. The slowing economic growth is forcing business firms to cut costs everywhere.  Cloud computing offers some breather to the firms to save costs in marketing and sales and after sales service areas. For some time now, as cloud computing offers more sophisticated solutions it has the potential to host more strategic applications. With could computing163 applications, a firm can boast of savvy IT infrastructure. With help of cloud computing firms will shortly no longer have to maintain IT assets such as servers, storage and software in-house. They will be able to rent these as and when required, sharply reducing expensive upfront investments in IT infrastructure. And by paying only for the computing resources used, companies could reap significant gains in utilization, while converting difficult capital expenditures to operating expenditures. A brilliant research on cloud computing also states that since companies save capex by using the cloud, the money can be ploughed back into their core functional areas.

164Security agencies can access cloud-based data as per their flexibility and will. This has encouraged greater interest in online encryption. Encrypting files makes it impossible to search their contents, even by authorized users. Technology such as CipherCloud allows businesses to park their data without compromising on security. Businesses will need to encrypt their data in the Cloud to prevent unauthorized access or theft of IP.

An increased emphasis on mobility means employees needing to access data and systems across a variety of devices any place, any time. Hosted desktops, or cloud-based virtual machines, provide all the benefits of a physical PC, but at a fraction of the price. Access to legacy systems prohibits a fully-mobile workforce. By shifting to hosted desktop solutions, staff has access to all systems from anywhere, providing the same user experience in the process.

While cloud computing offers immediate cost savings it promises a greater agility, speed, and reach. The best part of it is that it can159 be implemented in phases, without the need to “rip and replace” applications across the firm. An intelligent, carefully timed transition to the cloud can be a significant competitive advantage for a growing business. Today many firms in services sectors already have started offering their products on a cloud platform.

A research conducted by KPMG suggests that cloud computing will create 2 million new jobs in India by 2015; besides technical jobs, marketing and selling of cloud-based solutions will also be required, which in turn will create a host of new plethora of jobs.

In India, the cloud market is estimated to grow over 10-fold to $4.5 billion by 2015, from $400 million now states a report by technology firm EMC and consulting firm Zinnov. Industry experts feel this is leading to a surge of new startups that offer niche services to large enterprises which earlier required huge budgets to automate operations. A report from KPMG states that big IT firms in India are using cloud applications even in the banking and financial sectors in place of traditional software applications.

The cloud’s impact on other parts of the economy will also be significant. According to a paper published by research firm IDC, jobs will be created across functional areas such as marketing, sales, finance and administration, production and service. More than 50 per cent will be in small and medium businesses, two million plus each in communications and media, and manufacturing, and over 1.4 million in banking. Of the 13.8 million jobs created globally by 2015 because of cloud computing, two million will be in India.

Let us understand one thing straight about cloud computing and that is – everything is not so hunky-dory. As far as risks are concerned security remains a major distress. With the media highlighting all the security issues over the last few years it is seen that some people are reluctant, an example of a security breach that was highlighted was the attack on Sony PlayStation’s Cloud network, where many gaming user’s card details were stolen. Besides, there are security concerns over the loss of control over sensitive data and the complexity in the usage of it. This is because the data is spread over a large number of devices and resources being shared by unrelated users. Not knowing where your data is stored, is also a enduring worry and if you want to take data back for purely your use or you want to destroy it, you wouldn’t know that it is in use by somebody else or it has been erased completely. From business prospect if a cloud system is breached, the amount of information lost will be far greater than if it is stored on a single computer. It depends on the reliability of your internet connection, when your internet connection is off-line you are off-line. One approach might be to start cloud computing slowly; by choosing one or two business applications to replace and see how it works.

158But, right now the world is gung-ho about its application and usages. It has capacity to take us to a new virtual world while it is not known whether the promise of virtually infinite scalability really hold up under actual production conditions. Cloud computing has these issues, both positive and negative which demands serious due diligence.

What’s more, the democratization of the cloud allows small and medium businesses to access enterprise grade software, like Cloud CRM, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional on site install. Amazon is helping smaller businesses move their infrastructure to the cloud by providing free access to Amazon Web Services to startups. As well as gaining access to flexible computing resources that adjust to demand, startup businesses will also find themselves becoming heavily reliant on the AWS service.

So friends the business world is literally on Cloud Nine!



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