April 27, 2012 | Written by: James Barnes
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I heard for years about the cloud, and coming from a mainframe background, cloud really did not seem like anything new. At most, it seemed like a return to the things we used to do. Needed more processing on demand —ok we allocated more processor power to your jobs. What’s the big deal?
Looking back at the history of where we started on the mainframe, we had dumb terminals talking to the mainframe. Then, we started beefing up the terminals and transferring more of the processing to the terminal. Finally we had very powerful terminals handling most of the processing. Then, we started working back the other way with powerful servers and using a browser. Then, finally moving these servers to the cloud.
For the past several years, I thought “What’s the big deal?”. Seriously is this any different? Does this get us anything that we did not have before? Really what’s the benefit?
Then, it hit me. The big deal is that you are in control of your cloud. You are not having to go through a lot of overhead and requests in your organization and the IT organization to get more MIPS for your program. Expecting heavier traffic? Log on to your cloud portal and create and start a few more images, and add them into your project. No more going through getting additional hardware, doing installations, and testing. It’s just simple.
The old mantra — Keep It Simple Stupid — applies in IT and also the real world. Cloud keeps it simple, reduces the single points of failure, and makes it easier. The tools are better, the infrastructure is better…that’s the big deal with the cloud. It lets your lines of business focus on the business.
In the past, IT was sometimes as the blocker, Shadow IT started running rampant and processes were tossed by the wayside. Everyone had hardware, locally, often sitting dormant between usage times. But now, think about the future with a cloud, either private or public does not matter. Now if your line of business (LOB) needs a machine for a few days, create a new image using your approved image, and the LOB has it in a matter of hours at most.
How did this used to work? Well your line of business could have approached the IT department, requested new hardware, found out whether it was in-house, waited for it to be ready, provisioned and installed what was needed, and then used the hardware for what they wanted. And that scenario worked if everyone followed the corparate policy, but then it might still take days to weeks to get what they needed. This gave rise to lines of businesses engaging in Shadow IT. Not only were they getting the hardware outside of normal procedures but hiring people to then support this acquired hardware and software, while trying to keep that hardware acquisition a secret.
The cloud removes the need for all of this. Who needs dormant systems and software when you can acquire it effortlessly? Why spend money for hardware that is just sitting there? None of this makes sense anymore. The cloud can provide for your organization with lower overhead and lower usage costs. Only paying for what you need, and getting it when you need it.
All of these benefits, taken together, set off a bright lightbulb for me. Although I must admit it was almost like being “hit with a 2×4.” I feel almost silly for not having understood the power was in its delivered simplicity. I was expecting some huge technical reason, but the truth is, it is just simple. The technology behind the cloud is fantastic, but really that does not matter to the user, what matters is that it just works. And while we have come a long way since the days of the mainframe hosting, there are a lot of similarities to what we are doing now, but light years ahead. This is how I learned to love the cloud.