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How Cloud Computing is Redefining Modern IT May 6, 2013

Posted by egordon21 in Modern IT.
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Throughout the semester we covered several key themes affecting the current state of Information Technology. I have learned a lot from big data analytics to the mobile explosion taking place alongside social analytics. When I think of redefining, not just enhancing the way we work, I think of the power of cloud computing. While this is a big topic with many nodes underneath it, I plan on focusing on how it is driving value in our jobs we currently hold today.

 

Integration of existing services was once a very difficult task. Just in the past two years, our company has acquired two other companies both with annual revenues in the billions of dollars per year. Forbes presented an excellent summary on an article from a Price Waterhouse report that was published a few days ago on mergers with cloud computing. “The major catalysts driving cloud deals forward in 2013 is software companies” [1].  Cloud deals move faster and allow their systems to be easier integrated into legacy systems.

 

I typically hear about the problem of legacy systems bogging down everything in the banking realm, where mainframes running COBOL still are core to the business. The companies we acquired alongside ourselves all have adopted a (Saas) model for our in house applications. We didn’t have to write any expensive middleware which typically slows down and complicates the processes going on. The cloud allowed us to host our endpoints to be consumed by our customers who use our products. The distribution chain of the past included installing software from a disc, or sitting through client updates being streamed your way as a patch. With the cloud, updates are almost instantaneous because they are only installed on the load balanced cluster. This model differs from having multiple physical copies of the software, most of which could be of a different version. Configuration can be tricky this way, and upgrade paths become a little more difficult. While each customer will have their own configuration options to make the code work for their needs, the customization is designed for a predefined set of options.

 

With the cloud I have noticed that feature delivery has been much more frequent.

Even Windows now is going away from their 3 year Windows releases for shorter iterations delivered digitally for a smaller price. Windows Blue will be the first wave of this new software delivery model for Microsoft.  We use agile at work and deliver every 3 weeks with a new build that can be deployed. With centrally hosted software, the upgrade is done by us not the customer.

 

The cloud has allowed us to collaborate more than we used to. With social networking taking off thanks to MySpace and Facebook, these features of web 2.0 functionality are often offered with applications hosted online. This allows applications to be able to talk to each other, and share their information. Google Docs is a prime example of this, where one user can be making a change, and it shows up in the other user’s window. I also can update my Calendar, and the change is pushed to my phones calendar as well. This tight level of integration not only makes my life easier, but it also drives value in the centrally located benefits. I no longer worry about backing my files up, or having the wrong computer with me. Cloud storage gives me access to everything I need, so long as I have internet access. This changes the way I work, where before I would have to email or FTP something, I can drop it off in a drop box or content management system like SharePoint for someone else to pick up.

 

Smartphones are the hottest selling tech item outside of tablets for the past few years. Almost everyone I know has one these days. The article Redefining cloud computing calls for changes to applications to not be concerned with being consumed by a traditional PC, but by a mobile device. [2] His key notion that more people are using mobile devices then PCs is true. I do agree that working on the go is much easier with a smaller device, but trying to get serious IT work done isn’t possible without at least a laptop. Maybe your mobile device could serve as a thin client if everything is processed server side, and only displayed back to the user.

 

There has been a lot of hype around the cloud term and rightfully so. One of the topics classes last year focused entirely on the cloud itself and all it has to offer. This article on redefining the cloud [3] focused on the different architectural patters that have emerged to make use of the cloud. Some people think the cloud can be a model to solve any computing problem. This is true if we only focus on the tactical side of storage and scalability, but from a technology standpoint, I feel client server will be relevant for many years to come.

 

Expectations of sustainability were a video I watched. This article dealt with reducing the carbon footprint of the cloud. We think so much in short term gains, and I haven’t had the years of experience to know exactly how things will transition, grow, and scale with my infrastructure in the cloud. Businesses that go green are being awarded for their efforts. By running less servers in house, not having all that unused CPU power going to waste on down time, helps make the planet a little more efficient.

 

The last article I read was on NVIDIA a popular graphics company for the computing industry was redefining GPU technology. [5] I found this article to be fascinating because I do like to play PC games and own a powerful dedicated graphics card. GPUs for rendering extreme graphics often take a huge toll on battery life. If they could harness cloud technology to offload the processing to a new architecture which uses large scale data centers for processing, mobile gaming could take off. Devices would be smaller, games would become more efficient when streamed, and battery life would increase greatly. Many analysts have predicted the next release of the XBOX and PlayStation will be the last generation of consoles. If this architecture is anything to go on, tablets could one day have the power to stream offloaded graphics from the data center and output them right to your TV.

References

  1. http://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2013/02/26/how-cloud-computing-is-redefining-the-ma-landscape/
  2. http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/2515372
  3. http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/redefining-cloud-computing-again-187467
  4. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2011/11/21/cloud-computing-redefining-expectations-of-it-sustainability/
  5. http://nvidianews.nvidia.com/Releases/NVIDIA-Unveils-Cloud-GPU-Technologies-Redefining-Computing-Industry-for-Third-Time-7e2.aspx
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