Cloud Computing: Exploring the Future of IT

As new technologies emerge and more advanced and complex software is developed, the needs of the IT industry are expanding. As companies seek to utilize the latest and greatest developments while still reducing expenses, more and more attention is being given to cloud computing. Many hail it as the biggest development for all high-end computing since the shift from mainframes to the client-server computing model. The potential for developers, analysts, and users to shift hardware and resource requirements to remote datacenters has generated much interest and excitement across the industry.

It’s easy to see why – cloud computing has the potential to drastically alter the landscape of how hardware, software, and entire networks are implemented. The popular estimate among professionals is that as much as 70% of IT department budgets are spent on maintaining existing infrastructures. Breaking this mold is one of, if not the, biggest allure of cloud computing for the IT industry. In addition, new models such as SaaS hold great promise for companies by shifting the requirements of creating an infrastructure, implementing applications, and administrating them to the cloud datacenters. Through utilizing a cloud computing platform, companies will have more freedom and flexibility to maximize their efficiency while lowering costs.

Several major IT providers have already ventured into providing cloud computing solutions, such as Google, IBM, and HP – but no paradigm shift in computing would be complete without entry by Microsoft. As of February 1st, Microsoft has thrown their hat into the ring with Windows Azure. Released rather quietly without much fanfare, Azure provides an operating systems on a cloud network that many cloud computing proponents see as a far from perfect but important first step for Microsoft.

There are still many questions facing cloud computing and the practical implementation of it. Security is a major point of debate, with many arguing that sensitive corporate data such as customer records and information is more secure when managed internally. There are also potential privacy issues concerning cloud service providers monitoring client or user data and communication. In addition, standards and practices of cloud computing is only just being developed, leaving much to be determined in terms of such topics as open standards and API’s.

Despite these potential issues, cloud computing continues to develop and expand at a blazing pace. Given the buzz in the industry, the efforts of major IT companies, and the pure potential of what it may achieve –  there is little doubt that cloud computing is something we will be seeing a lot more of very soon.