No-one loves a buzzword like corporate IT types, but the latest one doing the rounds is likely to have a lot more staying power than most: the Cloud. As a label, the Cloud has plenty to recommend it, even to non-techies - for a start it’s a proper word not a TLA (three letter acronym), and it sounds futuristic, aspirational and exciting.
In the long run it’s likely to prove to be all of these things and more, but what does it actually mean? That’s where things start to get a little more confused. Like its fluffy white namesakes, viewed from afar the Cloud looks firm and well-defined, but get a little closer and it becomes diffuse, nebulous and hard to grasp. It means many things to many different people.
Luckily David Smith is on hand to guide us. As CIO of Fujitsu UK & Ireland, he has a pretty firm grasp of the Cloud, and of how it is going to change the nature of business as it becomes increasingly the norm.
‘The essence of the Cloud is on-demand,’ he says. That means that instead of buying enough PCs, servers and software licenses to service your firm’s peak demands (meaning that 80% of the capacity you have splashed out on spends most of its time idle), the Cloud allows you to match supply and demand much more closely and efficiently than before.
In the same way that manufacturers increasingly rely on just-in-time logistics to avoid the need to stockpile expensive components in their factories, so the Cloud will remove the need to have costly, redundant IT capacity ‘on the shelf’ just to make sure that your systems don’t fall over on the two busiest days of the year.
The Cloud, then, is simply the name given to the ‘place’ where all this computing power will reside – out there, on the web, ready for when you need it. Except that it’s less a place than a concept – you can be in the Cloud but you cannot visit it.
It applies to software as well as hardware – so in future you may find that instead of a corporate laptop or PC, you have a web-based virtual desktop which you can log into wherever you are, and using a variety of devices – from smartphone to dinosaur PC. ‘Your desktop will be beamed to a multiplicity of devices’ he says.
It’s early days and not, as Smith points out, without risks and uncertainties, but approached sensibly and with a few key points kept in mind, the Cloud offers huge potential upside. Reduced capex, much greater flexibility and the ability to scale rapidly up and down - handy in the current economic climate.
Other highlights of this MT exclusive interview include:
- How to embrace the Cloud at a pace which is right for your organisation.
- How the IT function itself will have to change in response to this new on-demand world.
- How Fujitsu saved £3m in capital expenditure and halved operating costs on part of its IT infrastructure by taking it into the Cloud.
For more exclusive videos, visit our microsite at www.fujitsu.managementtoday.com.
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