The business climate we operate in is placing increasing value on mobility, stability and ubiquitous access. To thrive in this environment, companies need to ensure they have the right technology infrastructure that enables workers to be more agile and perform activities anywhere, anytime – ultimately creating greater enterprise value. Many companies are still unsure how to incorporate these new technologies into their current operations.
Cloud computing offers organisations multiple business benefits, including cost reductions in energy, management and real estate, improved availability, and increased agility and responsiveness. It is grounded in technologies such as mobile platforming, cost-effective bandwidth, and, of course, virtualisation software. At present, many chief executives and managers are entering the cloud computing space with little idea of what it entails – apart from its regularly-exhorted benefits – or what sort of operational changes they’ll need to effect. As members of the virtualisation industry who design and understand its underlying systems, it falls to us to bridge that knowledge gap.
Despite the benefits, a recurring theme that prevents companies from investing in cloud computing is that it functions using software and services from outside the company’s servers. Relying on a third-party to host and manage your data can, of course, reap numerous benefits, but it also relegates significant control of your data and day-to-day operations. It’s easy to understand why many companies may be cagey about giving up that control.
However, current virtualisation software already allows companies to take advantage of cloud computing using their existing server architecture. It can even, through the use of virtual servers, allow a company to expand its cloud-ready capacity without actually having to physically upgrade its hardware. Companies can make the move to the cloud with their own data centres, reaping the benefits of increased access and agility without any perceived compromises to security or data management. This sort of solution can also be balanced with offsite virtual servers for backup, rather than primary operations, which can also be scaled up or adapted if the company wishes to expand its in-house cloud at a later date.
Informing customers about these options means that they’ll feel more comfortable with entering the cloud computing space – which also means a stronger, more engaged virtualisation sector.
We need to educate companies and foster across-the-board technical literacy, rather than simply touting the technology itself: most businesses are already cognisant of what the cloud can offer them, but remain hesitant over certain issues. Private clouds, for example, are often overlooked by both vendors and clients as a potential solution for smaller enterprises or those who deal with sensitive data. It is our responsibility to make sure we don’t overlook such solutions if we want to see cloud computing – and the virtual architecture which underpins it – thrive in the future.