From a commercial perspective the cloud computing service provider; such as a web hosting service, will need to meet some very demanding and widely varied metrics requirements including Quality-of-Service (QoS) that will need specific and custom service level agreements (SLAs) far different to the majority of those we have seen in the past.
Open Standards – In these regards open standards (don’t forget that the Internet owes its success to being an open standard) and open source software have a lot to offer and may well prove to be the critical factors in the successful growth and deployment scenarios for the cloud computing world in the years ahead.
Reduced Capital Expenditure – Because customers of cloud computing service providers are not burdened with the fiscal outlays; that would normally accompany the rollout of new information technologies and their supporting infrastructure, they can budget their costs as a consumable service utility. This means that they will pay for what they use in very much the same way as we pay for other utilities such as water, power and gas etc. There is also no need to overspend in order to make provision for peak and seasonal demands.
This is an area which costs business considerably as a recent Forester research report has shown that most companies use only 10% of their computing resources 95% of the time with public holidays and the Christmas period being the exceptions to standard usage patterns. With many businesses so reliant on this peak trade to ensure year-long viability they have no choice but to plan for the exception rather than the rule. “Make hay while the sun shines” is the modus operandi behind this type of strategy.
Utility and Subscription Billing Models – It is no surprise to find that many cloud computing offerings have indeed adopted the utility model and have tailored their services and billing structures accordingly. Yet another variation on this theme is the subscription model which charges customers on a subscription basis.
Both models have the own structural strengths and weaknesses and will probably co-exist side-by-side rather than directly compete head-to-head as it were. This latter prospect is given weight by the fact that some of the largest players in the cloud computing service provider game (Microsoft, IBM, HP, Google, Yahoo and Amazon.com) do in fact offer both billing structures to their clients.
Improved Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness – The sharing of computing resources among multiple “tenants” is one of the easiest strategies to implement; in order to deliver greatly improved asset and resources utilization rates. This means that servers do what they were designed and built to do; that is to serve and have very little idle time. More bangs for your processing buck.
The resultant and significant savings in facility running costs are augmented by improvements in the speed of application development. Because customers do not have to engineer for peak loads dramatic improvements in computer capacity can be readily delivered.
Increased High-Speed Bandwidth – The central technologies that are making all this distributed centralized cloud computing a realistic and viable choice and hence its rapid uptake by business and consumers alike are the networking technologies that have recently delivered massive increases and capabilities at relatively minimal fiscal investments.
Improvements in fiber optic transmission media and 10 Gigabit Ethernet in combination deliver ultra high-speed bandwidth capabilities that make it possible to receive the same degree of agility and rapid response times from centralized infrastructure at all geographically dispersed sites.
It no longer matters which distributed centralized facility you connect with. The service response and delivery will be of the same high speed standard anywhere and everywhere. Nor does it matter from which of a client’s facilities the cloud computing services are accessed from.
This latter point seems to have had the most influence since branch offices can now have head office transmission and processing capabilities and performance. A fact not lost on the corporate world.
Cloud Computing Providers
Players in the cloud computing service provision game include the likes of Amazon, Google, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP and Yahoo!
Cloud Computing Users
Some of the early adopters of cloud computing services include individuals and small organizations through to very large conglomerates such as: General Electric, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Valeo and the WWE.
It must be noted that traditional ISPs are not dragging the chain and are getting in on the cloud computing service provision industry in a big way. Tier 1 ISPs do after all have a huge advantage in that they already have, own or have peering agreements in place concerning the Internet backbone and IP Transit arrangements other would-be players will need to negotiate.
As already noted web hosting services are a major component of current cloud computing implementations and will undoubtedly grow exponentially as Web 2.0 and all its additional user capabilities become the true de facto standard for the Internet and websites in particular.