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What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a model for convenient enablement of on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be quickly provisioned with little management or service provider interaction.

A cloud computing service generally has five essential characteristics as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology:

  • On demand self service – a consumer can provision the services, such as adding users or additional computing power, without having any human interaction.
  • Broad network access – from laptops to tablets to smartphones, Internet access is becoming more and more readily available. This allows the cloud benefits to be extended and delivered to remote locations and users.
  • Rapid elasticity – resources can be rapidly expanded, or contracted, to meet the desired need. Done right, these services would appear unlimited to the consumer.
  • Pooled resources – with improvements in virtualization, storage and processing power, computing power can now be shared, on scale, across multiple consumers in a multi-tenant model. This enables economic benefits from cloud computing by sharing resources that have historically been distinct and separate.
  • Measurable services – the cloud systems themselves can optimize their resources to maximize performance and to also report to the consumer their exact usage of the service. This also allows consumers to see the services availability through Service Level Agreements (SLA).

Simply put, with the significant innovations in distributed computing, the improved access to high-speed connectivity and the economic benefits in a weak economy, cloud computing has accelerated in adoption across enterprises.

Cloud computing grew out of the concept of utility computing. Utility computing is using computing resources with hardware becoming a commodity to the point that companies will purchase computing resources from a central pool and pay only for the amount of CPU cycles, RAM storage and bandwidth used. The resources would be metered to allow a pay for what you use model, much like how it is done with electricity.

Cloud computing is normally distributed across many servers, providing high availability and even geographic redundancy. This also makes cloud computing very flexible as it is easy to add resources to your application. Cloud computing is designed with scalability in mind.


Private and Public Cloud Computing

What cloud is best for you? A cloud solution can be considered "private" or "public." A public cloud sells services to anyone on the Internet, with all users leveraging a common and scalable implementation. A private cloud has a similar implementation, but it is typically secured in an organizations data center, or managed by a hosting organization in a private and secure manner. Very often, corporations use a "hybrid" cloud, with some of the desired solution existing securely in their private cloud data center, and some of it existing in the public cloud.

Private, public or hybrid, the goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.

A public cloud is one based on the standard cloud computing model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet. The main benefits of using a public cloud service are:

  • Easy and inexpensive setup because hardware, application and bandwidth costs are covered by the provider.
  • Scalability to meet needs.
  • No wasted resources because you pay for what you use.

Types of Cloud Service Models

There are three common ways in which cloud computing solutions are offered "as a service" to organizations or end users.

  • SaaS (Software as a Service) – software solutions that an end user can just use. Popular examples of this include Microsoft Office 365, Google Gmail and Cisco WebEx.
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service) – a cloud based development platform used in building applications for the cloud. Examples include Microsoft Azure and Force.com.
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) – the hardware and software platforms, provided on scale, that provides or extends the infrastructure needs of an organization. Examples include Rackspace and Amazon.

Cloud Differentiators

Cloud computing solutions offer several differentiators that make it a viable approach for many organizations.

  • Ease of operations – you can control all your data with one service provider rather than multiple vendors.
  • Cost effective – applications are subscription-based, so you pay for only the features needed.
    • There are no upfront license fees so the initial costs are lower.
    • Since the provider will manage the infrastructure, it decreases your reliance on an already over-extended IT department (i.e., drives a lower TCO).
    • Cloud solutions move to an Operational Expense model (OPEX) rather than a Capital Expense model (CapEx).
  • Fast to market – a SaaS deployment should be completed in weeks rather than the months or longer traditional software deployment takes.
  • Less risk with a simpler model – no software to download, no software license to negotiate and no IT Infrastructure to worry about. It's flexible, has a lower cost and overall, is a lower risk for any organization.
  • Automatic updates – the service provider takes the responsibility for adding new releases and feature enhancements to the system, often over a period of time so you can accept them when you are ready. No longer will your IT staff worry about individual users on different versions or the next "upgrade" cycle.

Insight's Value for Cloud Computing

Insight is all in for cloud computing. With hundreds of clients and more and more of our partners offering their solutions via the cloud, we continue to see organizations of all sizes target the cloud for many solutions, and also looking to extend their data centers into the cloud as well.

Why should you consider obtaining your cloud computing solutions from Insight? There are many benefits.

  • Fortune 500 scale – most cloud computing aggregators and service providers are smaller and/or privately held. Insight clients want the assurances and stability that Insight provides in addition to our years of experience in managing partner relationships and client expectations.
  • Our Cloud Catalog offers best-in-class solutions – there is significant time and effort required to sort through all the cloud computing solutions in the market today. Insight adds significant value by performing due diligence on these partners and offering only the best-in-class solutions .
  • Insight is a complete single-source provider for all your IT Needs – we offer solutions across the industry’s leading hardware and software vendors, and we offer our Centralized and Professional Services to provide the right level of support for you
  • We are all about Client Care – Insight is the trusted advisor for thousands of clients because of our long term quality client care services. We value our relationship with you, and our Client Care model ensures that we stay connected with you and support your needs long term.

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