One of the major advances in Information Technology has been the upsurge in Cloud Computing in recent years. Simply put, Cloud Computing is the application of internet-style technologies and techniques to the hosting and management of applications and data.
The advantages of adopting a Cloud Computing platform are reduced operational costs, increases in the convenience and security of mobile computing, scalability, and the ability to easily assimilate changes in access methods and equipment brought about by “Bring your Own Device” or “BYOD”.
The five major drivers leading this new approach include:
One of the biggest changes in lifestyle in recent years has been the acceptance and use of mobile devices as an Internet access platform. Driven mainly by Social Media, users are now becoming much more comfortable with and reliant on intelligent devices like smartphones and tablets as their main communications instrument.
Allied to this has been the increasing availability of WiFi and mobile 4G data in public and private spaces.
This has had profound implications for network design and operation. No longer can the network manager control the types of device that can attach to the network. Users will present a variety of different devices, and expect to be seamlessly and easily connected to either Social Media or to a private corporate network. “Bring your Own device” is the new network mantra.
Corporates have been quick to see the potential in BYOD and mobile computing to provide road warriors with secure access to the corporate network, wherever and whenever that needs to be. They can communicate up to date and accurate information to customers and interact with head office easily and conveniently.
Technology Improvements in the Data Centre
It’s all very well moving to a cloud platform and providing access for staff and customers to corporate systems, but they will not be happy users if they do not find a secure, reliable and accessible environment. Potential customers need to be able to easily find information and receive quick and reliable speed of access.
Advances in network organisation like a Stem and Leaf architecture, coupled with hardware and software advances including Software Defined Network Access have made it possible to provide such an environment at an affordable cost.
Ubiquitous Broadband Mobile Access
It is difficult today to move around a public space without being exposed to either WiFi or mobile data. Many shopping malls and entertainment areas provide broadband WiFi access, and municipalities are increasingly providing it in public spaces. Cellular Service providers offer 4G connectivity in most areas, and 5G is being piloted in some areas today.
It is now easy to work remotely from a coffee shop or restaurant, either on the Internet, or connected to a corporate network. Some sites have sufficient bandwidth to allow video conferencing.
The ability of organisations and current and potential customers to easily reach each other is now far greater than before. Any organisation without an Internet presence, or at very least an ability to communicate electronically is at a serious disadvantage.
Low-Cost Managed Service Providers
When it first appeared, the costs of adopting a Cloud Computing platform were beyond the budgets of most small businesses. To meet that need, low cost managed service providers offering cloud-based services have sprung up.
Services are offered off-site or as a managed service on the customer’s premises. The ability to off-load the technical and operational aspects of a computing service to a third party, usually for a fixed cost is very attractive to a small business.
Increasing User Acceptance
The use of smart devices as a communications medium have become a fixture in our lifestyles nowadays. We expect that an organisation will have an Internet presence, we expect to be able to transact securely with service providers and we expect to be able to use Social Media everywhere we go.
This has fuelled a quantum increase is the speed of doing business. We expect to be able to communicate instantly and receive a response instantly.
Behind these expectations lie data centres hosting the hardware and software to supply these services. Increasingly nowadays, these are Cloud-based technologies.
Cloud Computing provides the opportunity to meet these demands at an affordable cost.