The Winds Of Change Are Blowing In The Clouds Favor

from Xand : Landon Long - 31st December 1969

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A few years back, if you asked your IT professionals about Cloud Computing, you probably would have received a blank stare, followed up with a "I love my servers" comment. At that time, even the term "Cloud Computing" was plagued by confusion, uncertainty and a fair amount of misinformation. Early misconceptions were further reinforced by the many 'cloud flavors' being lumped into one term, SaaS, PaaS, utility computing, virtualized computing, managed services, resource computing, elastic computing and so on. Many concluded that Cloud Computing was more a buzzword than a definable technology.

Today, that is no longer the case, with an overwhelming consensus affirming that the winds of change are blowing in the clouds favor. The desire to move into the clouds is quickly turning into a necessity, with a wide range of internal and external factors leading the charge. Redundancy, efficiency, availability, simplicity, stability or plain & simple economics, every entity has its own unique set of reasons for moving into the cloud. With its inherent time and cost benefits, It's no surprise that there is a growing wave of support for Cloud Computing, with some of that support coming from unlikely places.

This past week, a once reserved Gartner highlighted the benefits of cloud computing, stating; "The technologies that CIOs are prioritizing in 2010 are technologies that can be implemented quickly and without significant upfront expense, instead of investing millions of dollars to get millions in benefits, with these technologies, up front investments are measured in thousands of dollars to get those same benefits". In the same report, where the opinions of 1586 CIO's were polled, it was discovered that there has been a dramatic shift in global technical priorities. Amazingly, the #1 technological priority for the past five years has all but dropping off the list, being replaced by Virtualization & Cloud Computing.

In addition to the CIO's of the world, another area where Cloud Computing is gaining serious momentum is within the U.S. Government. It is clear that one of the world's largest political entities is doing more than assessing the clouds viability, but rather, running down the path towards broad adoption. In a revealing interview with Information Week, Obama's Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra stated: "The cloud computing investment in the 2010 budget reflects the administration's desire to drive down costs, drive innovation across the federal government, [and] make sure we're making available technologies to the workforce".

While the executive branch of the Government is currently in the late planning to early implementation stages, other agencies within the government have already moved into the clouds. Among the front-runners are NASA's NEBULA Cloud Computing Project, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Cloud Projects, the Defense Information Systems Agencies RACE Program, the Department of Homeland Security's Advanced Cloud Strategy, and a handful of other agency-drive initiatives. One of the more exciting initiatives is the GSA's approach to centralizing approved Cloud Computing Vendors, as well as plans for the agency to become the central clearinghouse for government backed private, public and semi-public cloud based applications and computing capabilities. To jump-start this effort, the Obama Administration, in conjunction with the GSA, launched www.APPS.gov, an all new centralized government storefront for everything cloud related. It is apparent that cloud based technologies are becoming so prolific, that even the U.S. Government is getting on-board!

While private, public and governmental initiatives are a good sign of progress in the Cloud Computing segment, other sure-fire indicators include innovation and investment. In addition to the hundreds of millions invested by leading cloud service providers like Amazon, Google and others, Microsoft and HP have put their hats into the ring with a USD $250 million investment in Cloud Computing. This extended partnership is aimed at building a new cloud based 'infrastructure-to-application' service that will "transform the way large enterprises deliver services to their customers", tackling both the expansion and innovation of cloud services in a single leap. According to Microsoft's CEO, Steve Balmer; "This agreement, which spans hardware, software and services, will enable business customers to optimize performance with push-button simplicity at the lowest-possible total cost of ownership".

Worldwide, there are countless examples of how Cloud Computing is re-shaping the way we think about our computing needs. However, there is one business segment that is a bit late to the game. The Financial Data Industry, with its transpiring low latency arms race and troubling regulatory concerns, has all but shunned the Cloud Computing paradigm, citing a host of philosophical concerns, and boasting the perceived benefits of over-spending on data acquisition technologies. Traditional data vendors are gripping tightly to the legacy delivery models of direct feeds, cumbersome flat files and terminal based data systems. It's no surprise that the one Financial Data Provider that has fully integrated Cloud Computing technologies into its delivery model, is growing at break-neck speeds. While it is hard to shake tradition out of an industry that is plagued by overwhelming systemic issues, it's good to know that there is at least one company that can see into the clouds, and is embracing the future with open arms.

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