G Joslin Vethakumar
Head – Bid Management (South-East Asia), BT
Innovation has now hit the sky as public and private sector entities have begun to embrace cloud-based service models with fervour
The current cloud burst involves using the Web to deliver IT services on demand and at a scale needed
So much has been written about the “cloud” that the expression, not the paradigm, has now almost become a cliché. This does not, however, mean that it is all-pervasive. While it has begun to make inroads into even verticals that are traditionally cautious (finance, for example), the concept remains nascent when it comes to acceptance by governments around the world.
That is set to change now with the Barack Obama administration having recently mandated that all U.S. government agencies should default to secure, reliable and cost-effective cloud-based solutions, thereby moving away from the earlier practice of building their own technologies in-house.
Two key factors may have resulted in the directive:
l .The successes realized by those governmental institutions that were quick to adopt the cloud
2. The fact that there are more than 2000 ederal data centres that are operating well below their peak capacity. Clearly, this is not efficient use of cash resources
When secure, cost-effective, usagebased options are available, why spend big on infrastructure that will remain underutilised? No wonder then that the Federal Government also plans to reduce the number of its data centres by 40 per cent by 2015 and realize instant cost savings. This is the advantage of going virtual with data centres. An acceleration in cloud adoption by public sector entities in the U.S. can thus be anticipated.
It is not just the U.S. that is going the cloud way, governments worldwide have already begun to see merit in it as well. Canada also announced recently that the government planned to create a private cloud for its IT infrastructure and for information sharing.
Singapore, a Trailblazer: Within the Asia-Pacific region, the Singapore government is already a trailblazer, having been operating its own private cloud for the last few years to fuel its ICT infrastructure and services. Moreover, its Ministry of Education adopted an open standard cloud platform in September 2009, thus becoming the first government in Asia to equip all its teachers with Web 2.0 communication and collaboration tools.
Also, the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) held in August 2010 in Singapore showed how cloud computing could be leveraged for even major events. Instead of buying the tools needed, the YOG organisers used cloud services to realise cost savings of around 80 percent.
Another Outsourcing Wave that India can Tap: Interestingly, India too is well poised to take advantage of the cloud in a big way with its sound IT ecosystem though it must vigorously pursue a high bandwidth environment. The cloud can fall within the ambit of Outsourcing 2.0 given the nature of the services offered. India has been the frontrunner in Outsourcing 1.0, with the low-cost phenomenon involving moving services across countries to be served by people – through Business Process Outsourcing, Offshoring, Call Centres, etc.
The current cloud burst involves using the Web to deliver IT services on demand and at a scale needed. It is a service- based model, with the Web as the delivery mechanism, taking businesses and governments into a virtualised world where all data reside within a network cloud, not on a server within their establishment or on a local computer. It gives them the option to have a third party run their infrastructure. A recent Ernst & Young survey showed that more than 70 percent of India’s IT infrastructure companies will go big on the cloud in the next two or three years. The Indian government can also be expected to draw on the potential of the cloud.
Recessionary Trends and Outsourced Service Offerings: But just what is cloud computing all about and what are its key benefits for pubic and private sector entities? It is an OpExbased business model that was born when organisations began to feel that they did not need expensive infrastructure, only the services they deliver. This makes economic sense now more than ever with recessionary trends having become increasingly cyclical and making even large organisations revisit their strategies as the benefits of renting, not owning, services/infrastructure outweigh the risks. The result is a wave of outsourced service offerings such as Communication as a Service (telephony, email), Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service. As the haze over this new-generation evolution has begun to clear, you can now get Anything as a Service ((AaaS).
Benefits for Governments and Businesses: The game-changing cloud
features location-independence and gives governments and businesses many benefits. They include reduced financial risk (as the cloud eliminates big upfront investments) and lower costs as the multi-tenanted approach (sharing of infrastructure) enables economies ofscale. The pay-per-use model makes it even more appealing.
They no longer need to have a big inventory of different types of servers and expensive equipment (as well as applications) to run their operations through their own dedicated IT infrastructure. Then there is a need to have a big number of specialist staff to maintain the infrastructure round the clock, adding to their costs.
The cloud changes it all by equipping governments and businesses with greater efficiency by helping them scale quickly as their requirements evolve. Storage capacity can be increased as soon as a need for it arises. For instance, if they have a need for new server capacity they do not have to spend big on a new system and wait weeks to beef up their infrastructure. By getting on the cloud, governments will also have the ability to speed up the rollout of e-services. With evolving technological changes, governments can reach out better to citizens and businesses. Citizens are already feeling empowered with disruptive technologies such as the social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). They can be served better by governments that harness the cloud to deliver efficient services.
Game-Changing Transformation: As can be seen, it is a lot more than the cost factor that is driving cloud adoption. It is in fact a game-changer with the cloud being a part of the transformation the communications industry is pitching itself on to cope with the explosion in content spawned by the video revolution that is gaining ubiquity. Interestingly, video is expected to account for more than 65% of all mobile data traffic by 2013.
Cloud computing is thus viewed as necessary next step for transforming the way data centre resources are deployed, configured and managed so as to make the “Everything as as Service” delivery model effective, classic, scalable and sustainable”. Significantly, Cloud services help businesses conserve energy through environment-friendly use of data centres. Governments keen to go green in an effort to lower their carbon footprint will thus find it compelling.
The cloud changes it all by equipping governments and businesses with greater efficiency by helping them scale quickly as their requirements evolve. Storage capacity can be increased as soon as a need for it arises
It is no surprise then that research firm Gartner projects revenue from cloud services to grow from $56 billion in 2009 to $150 billion in 2013. Gartner also says the cloud is one of the top three priorities of CIOs, the other two being virtualisation and Web 2.0, all of which are interlinked. While APAC revenues from cloud are still small, IDC estimates the market will expand at a rate of about 40% a year until 2014.
Security: A multi-layered security mechanism helps address concerns over data integrity and protection. Also, with a private cloud, organisations get the ability to deliver on-demand services without having to compromise on the security and stability offered by a traditional data centre. The virtual data centre yields real benefits.
The strength of transport intelligence at the network, service and application layers coupled with a next-generation, virtual data centre and a private cloud framework should help allay any security fears. Service providers who help businesses with the cloud will manage their risks.
Government environments are complex where processes hold sway, compounded by an IT infrastructure that gives them little room for upgrades without massive investments. The cloud will allow them to cash in on the latest in innovation and enhance productivity without having to fork out big bucks. Significantly, governments and businesses alike will not be left behind technology trends as service providers delivering cloud services will address all upgrade requirements.
End-to-end service management is critical for increasing availability, managing complexity and contributing to efficient services and enhanced profitability. The cloud can enable that, delivering innovative services that are more than a pie in the sky and keeping both the corporate sector and governments future- ready.