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the phrase du jour



What is a cloud?
A cloud is nothing but a metaphor for internet. Cloud is a new consumption and delivery model inspired by consumer Internet services. From the technical perspective, Cloud leverages virtualization, among other things, which enables: Abstraction of resources Dynamic right sizing Rapid provisioning From a business perspective, Cloud enables: Economies-of-scale Self-service for end users Sourcing options

Need for cloud computing

Without a cloud, a web server runs as a single computer or a group of privately owned computers. The computer(s) are powerful enough to serve a given amount of requests per minute and can do so with a certain amount of latency per request. If the computer's website or web application suddenly becomes more popular, and the amount of requests are far more than the web server can handle, the response time of the requested pages will be increased due to overloading. On the other hand, in times of low load much of the capacity will go unused. If the website, service, or web application is hosted in a cloud, however, additional processing and compute power is available from the cloud provider. The website would share those servers with perhaps thousands of other websites varying size and memory. If the website suddenly becomes more popular, the cloud can automatically direct more individual computers to work to serve pages for the site, and more money is paid for the extra usage. If it becomes unpopular, however, the amount of money due will be less. Cloud computing is popular for its pay-as-yougo pricing model.

Cloud computing
Cloud computing means using multiple server computers via a digital network, as though they were one computer.

A cloud user needs a client device such as a laptop or desktop computer, pad computer, smart phone, or other computing resource with a web browser (or other approved access route) to access a cloud system via the World Wide Web. Typically the user will log into the cloud at a service provider or private company, such as their employer. Cloud computing works on a clientserver basis, using web browser protocols. The cloud provides server-based applications and all data services to the user, with output displayed on the client device. If the user wishes to create a document using a word processor, for example, the cloud provides a suitable application running on the server which displays work done by the user on the client web browser display. Memory allocated to the client system's web browser is used to make the application data appear on the client system display, but all computations and changes are recorded by the server, and final results including files created or altered are permanently stored on the cloud servers.

Company Background
The firm under study is Vanguard restoration-an established disaster restoration firm with 30+ employees in Portland, Oregon. Much of their workforce is mobile constantly moving between client facilities, the corporate office, and investigating disasters sites. All corporate data was kept on a microcomputer asset owned by the company at their home office, and access to their production database system was limited to local users only; remote options were limited and constrained by the telecommunications capability of their office. Further, as they owned the microcomputer asset and were responsible for its maintenance, they were spending a relatively high cost for ongoing maintenance. Mobility is key; security is key; decentralization of information is a natural part of their business model.

Some problems and their solutions via cloud computing

Problem 1: Email Like many companies, our client viewed email as a mission-critical application. It spent a great deal of time and resources in managing, filtering, storing, and archiving email on its company server. They also had a lot of need to be able to access their email remotely anywhere at any time using a non-conventional browser (Firefox instead of IE), and needed to have their remote devices interact with email and calendars. Solution: Google Apps One solution that we recommended and implemented for this company was Google Apps. We transferred the email, spam-prevention, and anti-virus prevention for email away from their corporate Exchange server to Google. Google, as a part of their premium service, screens for malware. Without having to manage storage, backups, filtering, or system maintenance associated with email, the company is projected to save 30-40% off TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of that capability in year one. Free of the liability and risk for managing email, that also made their attack profile on their own server much smaller, meaning less operational risk to the server asset. The company no longer has to renew licensing to maintain email spam and virus filters. Also, it became easier to sync all manner of mobile devices to the Google service rather than the companys Exchange Server,

again, offering more capability at a constrained cost. And today, the Exchange capabilities on the server have been disabled and the company is able to access its mail and calendaring from anywhere, on any device, at a fraction of the cost than they would have otherwise, and, at a lower security risk than managing it themselves.

Problem 2: Application Access Having concluded that their legacy business system needed to be replaced, an obstacle remained: the mobility of their users. Out in the field, their sales teams and work crews would have to record information by hand and either call it in to be transcribed, or, wait until the data could be entered once they returned to the office. Solution: Hosted Terminal Services To address this need, we set up a Microsoft Server 2008 (R) Remote Desktop Services (RDS) solution hosted in our data center in Portland, Oregon. We configured the Terminal Service to run their new production application under whats called a TSRemoteApp configuration. Essentially, the users can double-click on an icon and connect to the program using terminal services. The program looks and feels like its running native on the local desktop but is really hosted across the Internet; data in transit is protected by the same encryption process used by an Internet browser. This means that any authorized party, anywhere, with connectivity to the Internet, can securely access production information, at materially lower support and licensing costs than a locally-installed application on the users machine. Problem 3: File Storage One of the next challenges well be confronted with will be to relocate the files away from the production server to some other location in the Cloud on the Internet to allow all authorized parties, anywhere, to access needed files. Solution: sFTP/Google Docs/Google Picasa Were looking at potentially three solutions to this problem. One could be securing a file transfer area on their hosted server and transferring information using Secure File Transfer Protocol (sFTP) across the Internet. To the end-user, they would see a regular mapped drive on their computers desktop. That mapped drive, though, could be used on any computer connected to the

Internet. Another solution will be the use of Google Docs and its recently-announced capabilities to simply serve as a file repository. While another approach will be to take many of the images that the company produces from its business and uploading them to Googles Picasa service for management, scaling, storage, and manipulation. Problem 4: Data Backups Like most companies, this firm had a tape rotation process to save hard drive data. This required labor to rotate the tapes and manage the tape rotation. And the restoration process was in jeopardy as the tapes were rarely rotated off-site. Solution: Online Data Backups Our online data backup solution will remove that labor component and automatically, securely store their production data on distant Internet servers. In the event of an emergency or even total asset destruction, all we need is access to the Internet to be able to recover mission-critical data and to get the company running again. We will be able to eliminate the labor component and simply automate the backup and restoration process. Meanwhile, image backups and email backups would be managed by Google as a part of their data services.

The end-goal of each of these solutions will be to transition the companys information system into the Clouds, allowing them to effectively work anywhere and at any time. Leveraging these technologies, the mobile workforce would be able to securely access its information system anywhere, while transferring their risk to vendors. Our solutions offer centralized management, self-services to reduce maintenance expenses, and lower expenses associated with software maintenance and licensing. This reduces the IT footprint of the firm, reduce the TCO associated with maintaining its assets, make the companys data more secure, more agile in the event of a facility catastrophe, and transitions its costs to a more subscription-based model allowing them to dynamically scale expenses based off of changing demand. These solutions also enable a significant degree of interconnectivity between Internet-connected devices and will allow them to empower a mobile workforce: potentially addressing larger competitive concerns like telecommuting and containing energy costs. And thats how technology is used by the small to mid-range business for competitive advantage.