John Sloan, a senior research analyst that covers infrastructure, consolidation, servers and storage at Info-Tech, said cloud computing is part of a general trend that focuses on moving IT from a hardware-based model to more of an abstraction, also known as the cloud. Although cloud computing technology is something that’s been talked about for a while now, Sloan said the technology is still in its early days and is still being developed.
“There are three kinds of services that live in the cloud,” Sloan said. “Applications can be hosted in a cloud and sold as a service, development environments can be sold as a service and (businesses) can create (their) own infrastructure and virtual machine(s) using a cloud-based service.”
For the channel, Gordon Kerr, distinguished engineer at IBM Canada (NYSE: IBM), said cloud computing is a way for partners to better differentiate themselves in the market. With cloud computing, businesses can share computing resources and other related services via the Web. Some of the benefits to moving services and solutions into the cloud include cost-efficiencies since users can access and share information on-demand directly from the Web, instead of having to manage everything in-house.
Especially with tough economic times and stagnant or decreasing IT budgets, businesses will be looking at ways to leverage their existing hardware assets and resources, Sloan said. Depending on the situation, he said some businesses may choose to use cloud services for new projects or “one-offs,” since this method of computing can sometimes be relatively inexpensive when compared to having to acquire new hardware.
Kerr said virtualization can also be linked to cloud computing as a key enabler to better allocate resources in a quicker and more dynamic fashion within a business or data centre.
By leveraging cloud services, channel partners can help their customers receive a return on investment (ROI) by bringing multiple technologies together such as software-as-a-service and virtualization.
“This is a fundamental change in the way technology’s (being accessed),” Sloan said. “More and more I think IT will start to move towards external providers outside of the organization, but I think there will still be roles for internal provisioning and computing as well.”
While Sloan forecasts 2009 will be a year of hype for cloud computing, he expects it will take at least another year before the technology really reaches its full potential to hit the ground running.