Cloud computing is a much bandied about term and yet a much misunderstood word.
But every company, large or small, wants to be part of the cloud that has been defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
Part of the confusion around the term arises from such technical jargon while the rest stems from the complexity of the technology. Cloud computing essentially allows a user with just a screen, keyboard and Internet connection to work from anywhere without needing to worry about software upgrades and the like.
We’ve heard all this before, of course. Given that the application services provider and application infrastructure provider technology models were similar in nature and went through a hype cycle before fading away from public memory, the scepticism around cloud computing and security concerns over this evolving technology do not appear to be going away in a hurry.
Despite this, cloud computing holds a lot of promise, according to research firms. A Microsoft-commissioned study, conducted by IDC, predicts that cloud computing will generate over two million jobs in India by 2015. And a study by research firm IDC for EMC India Pvt. Ltd concluded that cloud computing in India would be a $4.5 billion market by 2015.
NIST talks about three broad cloud models—public (free Web-based email services, Google Apps and Office 365 to name a few), private (in-house data centres) and hybrid (a mix of public and private). It also refers to three service delivery models—software as a service, infrastructure as a service and platform as a service.
However, for cloud computing to evolve into a successful model, security concerns would have to be addressed even as consumers of this technology work towards understanding the return on investment (RoI) as they convert their capital expenditure (capex) models to an operating expenditure (opex) models with the help of cloud computing.
Besides, the needs of a mobile workforce that believes in a BYOD (bring your own device) trend have to be addressed, since mobile devices introduce an additional security dimension.
These were some broad areas debated by participants at a panel discussion on Cloud Computing: Issues, Opportunites and Challenges, in Mumbai on 24 May.
Participants in the round table were Vijay S. Mahajan, vice-president, centre of excellence and infra projects, corporate IT at Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd; Ajit Mavinkurve, chief information officer, TML Distribution Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of Tata Motors Ltd; Alok Shende, founder and director of Ascentius Consulting; Suresh Ramani, chief executive of Techgyan Pvt. Ltd; Akshay Amar Garkel, manager, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd; and Srikanth Karnakota, director, server and cloud business, Microsoft India Pvt. Ltd. The debate was moderated by Leslie D’Monte, technology editor of Mint.