In today’s online, interconnected world, modern organizations require flexibility. Businesses need the ability to rapidly adapt to the disruptive forces which are shaping the new digital economy. With cloud computing, enterprises can leverage the same technologies causing the digital disruption they are contending with and utilize these to meet the challenge of remaining competitive in an online world.
Cloud computing has had a significant impact on the business technology landscape. In fact, most of the disruptive technologies influencing business and society today have been made possible by the proliferation of cloud services in recent years. The cloud has facilitated a new I.T. business model where companies can realize operational efficiencies and cost savings by utilizing an I.T. platform running on shared infrastructure—but the cloud is so much more.
The 5 Essential Characteristics of Cloud Computing
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a paper in September 2011 which defined the essential characteristics of a cloud service and outlined the different cloud service models. For a platform to be considered a true cloud service, it must possess five features. These are on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service. A cloud has these five essential characteristics, and each quality gives organizations the ability to deploy I.T. services rapidly when they need to. This agility is what creates the flexibility cloud computing offers to organizations competing in today’s dynamic business environment.
1 – On-Demand Self-Service
On-demand self-service gives subscribers the freedom to provision cloud resources on demand without any manual intervention by the platform vendor. This cloud computing characteristic gives organizations greater flexibility in that they can provide a cloud solution when they need it. As they are not dependent on the vendor for provisioning the service, this cloud feature enables the organization to respond to market conditions quickly and efficiently.
2 – Broad Network Access
The cloud characteristic of broad network access simply means the subscriber should be able to access the service over a network and not be limited by a location or device. Having the ability to access resources from anywhere, using any device, creates the flexibility needed by organizations operating in an online world. Not only does this improve organizational efficiency by allowing staff to work remotely, but it also gives businesses the option of providing efficient online services to their customers wherever they may be.
3 – Resource Pooling
Resource pooling refers to the cloud service provider consolidating all their computing resources to serve multiple customers from the same pooled infrastructure. This cloud computing characteristic gives service providers the ability to provide solutions at a lower cost, leveraging economies of scale. Subscribers to the cloud service gain greater flexibility in that they can commission cost-effective services and only pay for what they use.
4 – Rapid Elasticity
The ability to scale rapidly is an essential cloud characteristic which gives organizations the flexibility they need to adapt their services and meet the demands of operating in a dynamic business environment. The capability to rapidly increase or decrease computing resources, and only pay for what you use, improves not only operational efficiency and cost management, it also enhances the organization’s ability to adapt their I.T. services to rapidly changing enterprise requirements.
5 – Measured Service
A true cloud computing platform measures every computing resource to manage the underlying infrastructure as well as allocate appropriate costs to the users of the service. This pay-per-use business model gives organizations consuming cloud resources greater flexibility in their financial management processes. By utilizing a cloud platform, organizations gain the added benefit of improved cash flow. As cloud services are an operational expense item billed on a monthly basis, organizations do not need to part with large amounts of capital to finance their I.T. infrastructure.
Cloud Computing Service Models
Cloud computing has three different service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), with each service model providing a different level of flexibility.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
In an IaaS model, the service provider is responsible for the underlying infrastructure and the subscriber is responsible for the operating system, integration, runtime environment, data, and applications. This model gives the subscriber the most control over the cloud service but provides some flexibility in that no management of the network, storage, server or virtualization layers are needed.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
PaaS takes flexibility one step further in that the platform provider takes responsibility for the operating system, integration, and runtime environment, and the subscriber only needs to manage the application and the data. PaaS is a great service model for rapidly deploying custom developed apps and in general, is more cost-effective than the IaaS model.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS is the cloud service model where the subscriber has the least control but also the greatest agility. The subscriber simply consumes a service, like an email platform or file-sharing solution, and the platform provider is responsible for managing everything else. This service model provides great flexibility in that commodity services can be consumed instead of managed by the organization, freeing up their resources to concentrate on managing I.T. which adds business value or creates a competitive advantage.
Cloud Computing Deployment Models
When we think of cloud computing, the general perception is that of public cloud providers. However, cloud computing platforms can be deployed on an organization’s internal infrastructure to create a private cloud. For the greatest flexibility, most organizations deploy a hybrid cloud model where some I.T. services are provisioned on-premise while other workloads are offloaded to the public cloud. In this way the organization gets the best of both worlds, they can retain control and manage critical I.T services on a private cloud and utilize a public cloud for high-performance workloads, commodity services, and temporary I.T. environments.
The Cloud Provides Greater Flexibility
There is no doubt that cloud computing has had a monumental impact. The utilization of cloud services can give organizations the competitive edge they need to thrive in the new digital economy. A true cloud offers flexibility through self-service capabilities, universal access, shared economies of scale, on-demand scalability, and cost-effective resource metering, while the multiple service models provide organizations with added flexibility and granular control. The option of deploying a private, public, or hybrid cloud further enhances the flexibility of this I.T. platform, giving organizations the ability to deploy the relevant I.T. workload on the right platform when they need to.
To learn more about cloud computing’s flexibility and how it can provide your business with the edge it needs to compete in today’s modern economy, contact JMARK today.