Cloud-based services from web hosting companies, including hardcore Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings, are being picked up at rapid rate by small to larger companies in North America and globally.
A recent survey entitled the Future of Cloud Computing estimates that there was almost a 10% increase in cloud adoption by companies at the end of 2013 over the previous year – 75% vs. 67% respectively.
While most personal users and business leaders are now familiar with the term cloud computing, there is still some confusion as to how specific cloud services can benefit an enterprise or small business.
“The basic concept is that data and applications stored remotely can be delivered over the Internet, turning computing into a utility like electricity and water,” said the Washington Post.
“For businesses, it means they can access computing resources on a scale once available only to companies with enormous amounts of money and technology know-how. The cloud can help them get by without hiring lots of geeks.”
Generally, most business leaders may neglect or resist a move to cloud based computing due to security concerns, especially since there is the perception that cloud datacentres and networks are attractive targets because of the huge number of records they hold, particular in the health and financial sectors.
“But the major cloud service providers can invest far more heavily in security than the average business can, and the average business remains vulnerable,” said the Washington Post.
“In a 2011 survey, 90 percent of companies said they had been hacked in the previous 12 months. Security experts will tell you that the remaining 10 percent just didn’t realize they’d been hacked.”
The Post surmises “In the same way that retailers have convinced customers that their personal and financial data are secure when they make online transactions, cloud service providers will eventually be able to assuage fears about security.”
And, security is often linked to reliability, an area that opponents will bring up when criticizing the cloud.
However, these concerns are likely to dissipate over the next 24-months, especially with new data being publishing to the contrary.
A study released by Microsoft reports that, in addition to time and cost savings, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that use a cloud service gain significant security, privacy and reliability advantages compared with companies that have not adopted the cloud.
The Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) market continues to draw attention from business IT leaders offering them ways to outsource virtual desktops to a remote web hosting provider and leverage simpler desktop management, reduced hardware, increased flexibility and greater mobility.
By moving desktops to the cloud, IT managers reduce dependence on costly administrators and programmers, while allowing their key personnel to focus on productivity and revenue generating activities.
Hosting providers like Virtual Internet, take care of resource provisioning, load balancing and network related issues and additionally offer 24/7 support for any critical technical issues that may arise. This ultimately ends up decreasing initial infrastructure costs than attempting to run VDI in your on on-premise datacentres.
“Still, these desktops are delivered over a remote connection, so some additional latency comes into play.”
There are other specific technical benefits, too, including:
Since cloud-hosted desktops aren't connected to servers in your data center, they're easier to move, patch, upgrade and restore when a failure happens.
Plus, a cloud deployment is more flexible than VDI -- your provider can quickly spin up desktops to users on any device.
Even network concerns are often unwarranted, because cloud-hosted desktops are connected to the corporate environment through a private connection.
However, a balanced review of cloud desktop infrastructure must consider some challenges and restrictions facing IT managers, including the fact that they give up some centralized control over the architectural hardware and must also consider issues with connectivity and reliability (two reasons why choosing a credible IaaS hosting provider upfront is so important).
“Check for USB support, printer redirection and other hardware compatibility needs. Also consider where the provider stores user profiles and whether it uses mandatory profiles that you can't customize.”
Cisco is set upon shaking up the Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) for content providers with its new extended Videoscape Internet TV Service platform orchestrated through OpenStack.
Built for both public and private cloud deployment, its geared to allow service providers and media producers the ability to deliver personalized TV services to consumers.
“It’s designed to enable content companies to augment existing infrastructures by turning up new services without needing to create, code, and integrate new capabilities themselves,” said Network World.
Meanwhile another variant of the platform called Cisco Cloud Fusion allows service providers to mix-and-match elements of all Videoscape deployment modes – cloud software, cloud services, or on optimized hardware and software appliances – to customize the platform and infrastructure to the specific needs of the customer.
Cisco states that as the video landscape evolves, service providers and media companies face new competitive challenges.
“Online video services are eroding profitability by delivering low-cost video content to new screens and devices. At the same time, the premium content that consumers crave is becoming more expensive.”
Cisco’s platform entails delivering and monetizing a new generation of compelling, differentiated video experiences.
“It is the next generation of the Cisco Videoscape platform, now strengthened and enhanced with solutions and expertise from NDS that bring powerful new capabilities across cloud, networks, and clients.”
According to Cisco the technology offers these features:
Multiscreen: Take multiscreen experiences to the next level by delivering video in a more exciting, immersive, and engaging way.
Synchronized: Push contextual content and targeted ads related to TV programming to companion devices in real time.
Personalized: Make it easy for viewers to find content they want with personalized discovery and recommendations based on social connections, analytics, and user profiles.
Social: Use social networks to bring people together and deepen viewer engagement with virtual viewing parties, real-time IM, and video chats around linear video and more.
Meanwhile, Network World reported that NBC Sports deployed Videoscape for transcoding and content management during its production of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“NBC implemented a cloud architecture to stream live and on-demand Olympic sports content for on-site production in Sochi. “
The UK financial sector, or at least certain players within it, sees the continued move from traditional computing to cloud computing in a similar vein as to that of the outsourcing (or offshoring) trend (at least legally!), concluding that it’s just another form of contracting for third party services.
“This guidance is intended to help organisations consider the security features of cloud services they wish to use. It is the first of a number of guidance documents for the public sector relating to the use of cloud services to process OFFICIAL information. “ ~ UK Government