Enterprises are seeing a clear and deliberate shift from the PC era to the cloud era. While the cloud represents a new way for IT to deliver - and end-users to consume - IT applications and services, this transition also represents a significant change in how applications, services and systems are defined. The move to cloud computing is perhaps the most important technology disruption since the transition from mainframe to client server, one that will define the next generation of IT.
The movement itself has been in play for the last decade. However, there continues to be a lot of (mis)information in the marketplace about the cloud. It is thus difficult for organisations to figure out what is real and what is not to help them develop a successful cloud strategy, or simply learn about technologies that have been specifically designed and purpose-built to meet this dramatic shift in technology. While it is important to know what the cloud is, it is just as important to understand what the cloud is not.
1. Cloud is not a place. People often talk about moving to the cloud as if they were moving to another city. However, the cloud is not a place. In fact, the cloud can be anywhere, in your data centre or someone else's. Organisations that believe they are moving to a strategy that leaves legacy apps and systems behind are in for a rude awakening. The single most important way for enterprise organisations to prepare themselves for the cloud is to understand that the cloud is a more agile, efficient and cost-effective way of delivering, consuming and adopting IT services. By looking at the cloud holistically, organisations can optimise its benefits for their budgets, privacy needs, geographies and work flow.
2. Cloud is not server virtualisation. Despite what many believe, the cloud is not the same as next-generation server virtualisation. It is not true that by virtualising your data centre, a private cloud is created. On the contrary, that is a gross exaggeration of the term cloud. There are some fairly stark differences between a server virtualisation environment and a true cloud architecture. Virtualisation is a technique that allows you to run more than one hardware platform, operating system, storage or network resource on the same hardware while cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over a network. While virtualisation can be an important ingredient of cloud, it is not always a requirement. Google, for example, deployed a cloud architecture that is not using server virtualisation, but rather a bare metal infrastructure.
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