I have written before about cloud computing. I like the definition I heard the other day to describe what cloud computing really is. “It’s not in ‘the cloud’, it’s on someone else’s computer’.
And that is pretty much it. The thing is, to you the end user, that computer could be anywhere in the world. You don’t know where it is hosted. And as it would happen, as people get used to this, it doesn’t really matter.
Google’s offering is cloud platform. It’s the broadly the same as other competing services from the other big providers, such as Amazon and Microsoft. I’m sure each of these providers has their own promotional material as to why their offering is better, but with the state of computing as it stands these days, they are all adhering to certain standards, so it’s pretty much a muchness.
Allow me to explain now why it’s a good idea for businesses that run their own infrastructure to consider changing.
In the past, and for many businesses still, having physical computer resources that the company “owned” was/is important.
Now though, businesses still managing their own computer networks should take a look at how they are doing things and ask themselves if they need their own infrastructure. Infrastructure is expensive and there is so much of it to have to do it right. Your servers need to be engineered so that they are highly available (meaning if something fails, you have extra hardware there that means you won’t lose time or data), you need to back the servers up, make sure they are secure, have your own firewalls and intrusion detection devices, et c et c.
All of this needs to be maintained, so not only do you have the cost of the infrastructure, you have the cost of supporting it.
Then of course, the hardware needs to be refreshed every few years. IT can become expensive for a company that isn’t actually in IT.
When it comes to the desktop for many years IT support staff wanted to move everything to a server based model, with the workers’ desktop being largely a dumb terminal. For many years workers resisted that. A PC was “their” PC and it had “their” files on it.
This has always been problematic for IT support. Lots of time has been spent by desktop support professionals on efficient methods of upgrading desktop software, anti virus and security products et c. I am not across current best practise of doing these things, but I know the challenges that managing desktops will remain as long as there are desktops.
But now, the times they are a changing. Cloud computing is a game changer.
More and more corporate applications are web based. In addition to this standard desktop applications such as word are moving to the web as well. Finally, the dream of IT staff frustrated by desktop support of largely server based computing is being realised.
When it comes to the servers that offer services to the end user remotely, that too is changing. When Google (or other large providers round the world) offer their cloud platform, I would recommend that any company still using their own infrastructure start making plans to retire it and migrate their IT to Google.
Once you have done this, you simply don’t have the headaches associated with the support of your own IT environment. Google themselves handle all of the problematic aspects of support, such as security, backup, availability, load management and so on. Not only that, but I’d wager they will do it at a lower cost that the cost of in house IT.
On the downside of course, there end up being fewer and fewer jobs for local IT support staff. The price of progress.
For more information check out Google Cloud platform.
Disclaimer: I make no money from writing an article about Google. I am simply observing the changing face of computing.