Today there is a shift emerging that we believe will eventually affect virtually every type of organization from small start-ups to large enterprises. This shift is the use of cloud computing and cloud services. We are starting to see organizations extend compute, storage, and other workloads to the cloud – where these workloads will be operated and managed by a software vendor. Some organizations are using the cloud for temporary compute power, as is the case with the New York Times, who needed compute resources to convert their archived library of articles to PDFs – some are more permanent such as data archival. So what makes the cloud attractive to organizations?

 

Problems today:

• Many of the challenges with building applications today have very little to do with development tools, programming languages, or frameworks.

• Rather, many of the challenges that organizations face are related to the infrastructure required to deploy, run, and manage applications.

Startups - For example, imagine you were a startup building the next social networking site or online game

• You have to worry about numerous issues that are unrelated to the functionality of the application.

• [Capacity]

• You have to think about the capacity requirements for the application.

• Will it be used by a few thousand users or hundreds of thousands or millions?

• How do users translate to bandwidth, storage, and server requirements?

• Will the usage be consistent during all times of the year?

• Will it be consistent over the lifetime of the application?

• Can you handle spikes in demand if there were sudden demands for the app? (Digg Effect)

• Ultimately, most organizations end up paying for more capacity then they need.

• [Deployment, operations, and versioning]

• Then you have to worry about deploying and operating your application

• How do you deploy your application over multiple servers?

• How do you roll out updates to the app without taking it offline?

• How do you manage patches?

Enterprise - For established organizations, some of these decisions and problems may have already been addressed through a shared data center or an established staff and processes.

• However, in enterprise organizations we often find that apps are silos of their own servers.

• Established organizations also still have to spend a significant amount of capital and operations funding.

• IT resources are applied to maintaining applications rather than delivering new value and functionality.

ISV - Finally, if you’re an ISV who builds applications for use by other businesses you have to worry about a number of additional problems.

• You have to think about your customer’s capacity, which gets factored into the cost of ownership.

• Often, your sales opportunities are limited by your customer’s ability to deploy new applications.

• Your customers often have existing assets such as order fulfillment systems, ERP systems, multi-terabyte databases, etc. that are running on-premise. You must be able to easily integrate with these assets.

• So many things get in the way for building new apps

• Infrastructure - Operations, Patching, OS Management

• Building and maintaining costly infrastructure

So why are organizations considering or moving to the Cloud?

When we talk with partners and customers, there are 4 general reasons why they’re starting to find the cloud attractive.

1 - First, they view it as a way to reduce their capital and operations costs.

Cloud Services provide a utility-like model to compute and storage resources – where organizations can only pay for what they use.

This is often referred to as a “Pay as you go” model.

2 - Second, the cloud can potentially simplify the deployment and management of applications

By relieving organizations from worrying about infrastructure and capacity.

3 - Cloud Services can improve time to market for new applications.

Instead of spending weeks or months deploying servers and infrastructure to support new applications – organizations can quickly deploy applications to the cloud or use storage in the cloud where vendors provide pre-provisioned data centers.

4 - Finally, Cloud Services can make it much easier to scale up or down as needed.

Instead of building out capacity for peak usage or not having enough capacity to deal with usage spikes, with the cloud the platform vendor manages the capacity and you only use (and pay for) what you need.

Think of this as “Pay as you grow”

 

Some interesting readings on cloud computing….

Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing -

2009 Global Survey of Cloud Computing – Avanade did a global survey of cloud computing in 2009. It’s a good report for general reading and a sense of the trends and findings.

Govt CIOs should look up to cloud - Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum's director of government practice, said agencies in the public sector face the same pressures this year to cut costs and boost operating performance. While governments worldwide are throwing in massive financial stimulus packages to jumpstart their local economies, the reality is that governments themselves are "being beaten by the hammer of the economic crisis". Read more at ZDNet Asia.

David Chappell - A Short Introduction to Cloud Platforms

David Chappell - Introducing the Azure Services Platform: An Early Look at Windows Azure, .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services

Mapping Applications to the Cloud - This article discusses an approach to moving applications to cloud-computing platforms.

Describing Cloud Computing

Series - Cloud Computing and Microsoft

Cloud Computing and the Microsoft Platform

Azure Services Platform - Build new applications in the cloud - or use interoperable services that run on Microsoft infrastructure to extend and enhance your existing applications.

Microsoft Cloud Computing Tools

Peering into Future of Cloud Computing

Windows Azure Blog

Cloud Computing Tools Blog

Are Cloud Based Memory Architectures the Next Big Thing?