Businessweek on Cloud Providers and Customers

I was reading an interesting story just published by Bloomberg Businessweek titled “The Cloud: Battle of the Tech Titans”. The story covers some of the more obvious benefits of cloud computing such as reducing the costs associated with having underutilized hardware and time spent maintaining software, but it also drills into a variety of other benefits. These include the correlating benefit of IT having more time and budget to spend on innovating and moving their business forward, as well as the availability of the massive computing capacity which cloud services deliver. This is particularly important in relation to the ever-expanding data and information available to companies, which is also discussed in the piece.

One of the excerpts in the article that caught my eye was about the data volume availability and how this technology shift differs from previous examples:

“What's different this time—as compared with the rise of the mainframe or the PC—is scale. As the consumer Web exploded, the global mass of computer data went supernova. This year, according to IDC, the world's digital universe will reach 1.2 zettabytes, or 1.2 quadrillion megabytes. If you take every word ever written in every language, it's about 20,000 times that.”

The topic of private cloud infrastructures is also covered in the story, describing it as a “more efficient version of traditional IT infrastructure”. Also included is information about how companies can use private cloud solutions as a bridge between traditional IT and public cloud infrastructures. The story also includes cloud related companies that are private cloud naysayers who, not surprisingly don’t offer these types of hybrid, flexible solutions, and only have off-premise cloud offerings.

A variety of Microsoft customers, such as Starbucks and Kraft, also talk about their real-world cloud experiences in the story. One of the included customer examples is the City of Miami. The City had its 911 system for emergencies and also a 311 hotline for reporting non-emergencies, like streets needing to be repaired, lost dogs or minor complaints. They wanted to improve their 311 system and add a web application that would allow citizens to report and track resolution of their calls.

Even though they were facing an IT budget that was down 18 percent and an aging IT infrastructure, they still wanted to make this happen for their customers. After considering the options, they selected the Windows Azure Platform to run their new online 311 service. Their IT group has seen an estimated 75 percent cost savings in the first year of the service, and developers are planning to further enhance the system with things like the ability to upload photos. The full details of the City of Miami story are available in a video and case study here.

I found “The Cloud: Battle of the Tech Titans” article to be a good read, let me know if you have thoughts on it as well. If you’re looking for more information on what Microsoft has to offer businesses interested in cloud computing, check out our Cloud Power site too.

Thanks for your time - Larry