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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Cloud – Latest Hype or Old News?

20 May 2011 by Jenn Granger

Several UKFast team members attended the Enterprise Cloud Computing & Virtualisation Conference in London this week. The event was very well-attended, with senior decision makers from a range of large brands highlighting the huge interest in cloud.

There were a variety of speakers creating some interesting debates at the UKFast Cloud Bar between sessions.

With all of the buzz surrounding cloud, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is a new concept. However, it’s actually a well-established and proven technology.

In 1962, J.C.R Licklider of Massachusetts Institute of Technology discussed a ‘Galactic Network’ in his research paper; a vision of computers interconnected globally, giving access to data and programmes anywhere in the World.

The Challenge of the Computer Utility, published in 1966, also talked about utility computing – a method of organising and providing a wide range of computing-related services as public utilities, accessed on demand.

It was only in recent years that the term ‘cloud’ became widely adopted to describe this type of computing, with Silicon reporting that it was voted the “most over-hyped technology” in 2009. From there on, growth and adoption has snowballed.

As much as cloud is now an accepted and established terminology and technology, there are a growing number of words being used to drill down into cloud services; hybrid cloud, performance cloud, infrastructure cloud, professional cloud, personal cloud, public cloud, private cloud…the list goes on.

One of the simplest definitions given at the ECCV conference to describe cloud services was “a method of computing where applications, data and other IT capabilities are provided ‘as-a-service’ using internet technologies.”

From there on, cloud is not a one size fits all solution and there’s still room for even more development in the future. For example, there is still a way to go for software vendors to catch up with the cloud model, with yearly licences going against the on-demand model.

Public cloud, whilst flexible and cost-effective, has limitations that make it unsuitable for business-critical services. Private clouds are more costly but offer a dedicated environment that addresses security concerns. And hybrid clouds combine two or more of any public, private, internal or external solutions to make a truly bespoke model.

At the end of the conference, it’s clear that cloud is here to stay. And with case studies from brands such as Allied Irish Bank demonstrating over 90% virtualisation of its server estate, the sky really is the limit.