Clouds : Behind the Scenes


With cloud services now obtaining as much press as the fallout from Kim Kardashian’s wedding, it seems safe to say that clouds are likely to be in the business forecast for the foreseeable future.

A strong answer to every IT infrastructure manager’s prayers, cloud computing can provide both a scalable on-demand combination of hardware, software and services, as well as helping fulfill corporate/social mandates for becoming greener.

The people over at Carbon Disclosure Project decided to commission a study into the potential impact of cloud computing on large US businesses. Released in July 2011, the report was independently produced by Verdantix and sponsored by AT&T.

Not surprisingly, the study shows “that by 2020, large U.S. companies that use cloud computing can achieve annual energy savings of $12.3 billion and annual carbon reductions equivalent to 200 million barrels of oil – enough to power 5.7 million cars for one year.”

What is surprising is the incredibly thoughtful nature of the free, 23-page report (aptly named “Cloud Computing – The IT Solution for the 21st Century“). Not only is it an easy read, but it offers:

  • Terrific insight into the characteristics, types of services and deployment models of clouds
  • A crisp explanation of the differences between dedicated IT, private clouds and public clouds
  • Analysis that is based on at least 10 name-brand, multi-national companies (e.g., Aviva, Boeing, Novartis, State Street) that have invested in cloud computing
  • The logic as to why adopting a cloud model makes sense
  • A financial analysis of the costs of the various models in response to a hypothetical (but realistic) loss of operational support for an HR application within one year
  • The green benefits of clouds, including a carbon emissions model for CO2 reductions
  • A glossary of cloudy and cloud-related terms

While not a silver bullet, for the right applications, cloud computing can offer dramatic savings of both time (think in terms of multiple weeks for new servers to be provisioned to minutes) and money (think in terms of limited or no upfront capital costs and a pay-for-what-you-use billing model).

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