I hope you’ve enjoyed part 1 and part 2 of my three-part series about how cloud computing can be leveraged to tackle business challenges and to innovate with new business models. In this last part, I discuss a few more benefits that empower businesses and improve IT infrastructure efficiency. Some of the contents below have been adapted from my book chapter, “Cloud Computing Terms, Definitions, and Taxonomy.”
Efficiency and environmental impact
I believe efficiency is one of the most important value propositions of cloud computing. A cloud delivery model encourages and enforces better server utilization by changing from one application per server model to multiple applications per server using virtualization. Organizations can consolidate multiple servers into fewer by means of virtualization or centralization. Cloud computing does not require virtualization. I am using the term centralization here to refer to consolidation of many underutilized physical servers into fewer physical servers.
In conventional IT infrastructure, a server’s utilization ranges from 5 to 20 percent (source: “Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing”). For any particular physical server, CPU, storage devices, memory, networking devices and any other peripherals contribute to energy consumption. An academic research paper published in 2009 finds that an idle server consumes 60 percent of its peak power. One can easily understand how this wastage is leading to high costs and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the research paper, conventional or existing data centers use a significant portion (60 to 70 percent) of power on cooling. Other studies indicate this amount as 50 percent. This is a significant amount. This means in existing data centers, for every one watt used for actual computing, one additional is used just for cooling.
Cloud computing facilitates a savings of 20 percent in power consumption by improving energy efficiency in the server and network. According to an IBM report, cloud computing saves 40 percent on floor space and 60 percent on power while improving asset utilization by three times. We can see the direct consequence of consolidation here. If we can consolidate many servers into fewer, we’ll require less floor space and less power for cooling.
Cloud computing changes the architecture of one application per server model. Virtualization allows you to run multiple applications in different logical partitions or virtual machines on the same server without sacrificing performance. This increases server utilization considerably. Typically a non-cloud IT infrastructure-based application can run at 10 to 15 percent utilization. According to two reports (Accenture, The Green Grid), the same application can demonstrate 40 to 70 percent utilization when relocated to the cloud. The report by Accenture also finds that cloud reduces carbon emissions by 30 to 90 percent for major business applications.
Leveraging the expertise of skilled vendors
IT companies like IBM have cloud-related products that are built on the expertise and best practices learned over many years. Many organizations have business partnerships with tech companies. Over time these tech companies have gained trust and respect from the partners. In this era of cloud computing, tech companies can assess an organization’s current IT landscape and business situation, assess suitability for cloud adoption, provide recommendations on cloud migration and, finally, provide an on-premise cloud (private cloud), onsite or offsite managed cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud. There is also a cloud service brokerage that does not own or create any cloud services but helps other organizations find the right cloud products from a variety of cloud service providers.
Cloud computing should always come with built-in high availability. As cloud computing leverages a distributed architecture, workloads can be distributed in geographically separated locations. Cloud service providers offer multiple redundant sites and thus can provide better data recovery, redundancy and backup. However, an organization needs to carefully peruse performance and reliability metrics before signing a contract with a cloud service provider. It has to be a mandatory exercise for their IT strategy and governance.
Why wait for cloud computing now? In this series of three blog posts, I have outlined following benefits of cloud computing:
- Reduced capital expenditure
- Low ongoing cost
- Elasticity and economies scale
- Efficiency and environmental impact
- Leveraging the expertise of skilled vendors
It is high time to consider cloud computing to reinvent business, be competitive and sustain in today’s challenging business world. I would welcome your comments.
Shamim Hossain is an experienced technical team leader and project manager leading a number of complex and global projects with involvement in the full project lifecycle ranging from planning, analysis, design, test and build through to deployment. He is an IBM Certified Cloud Solution Advisor and Cloud Solution Architect. You can reach him on Twitter @shamimshossain.
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