Moving to the cloud: Big savings, but plan ahead

Savings can be significant over in-house gear

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The public cloud has been instrumental in providing a high-performance computing environment for the company's protein research team. There are two or three applications the team uses that require hundreds of servers, but not all the time -- that's not the type of environment the IT group could offer easily and cost-effectively on-site.

"The public cloud is great for short-term usage, since very few enterprises have spare servers lying around anymore. Instead, it enables IT to have a quick response to new projects without having to preplan," Stratecast's Stadtmueller says.

But she warns that this low barrier to entry comes with some challenges for the enterprise, including maintaining control of data. Cloud computing is so easy that you don't need IT decision-makers to get up and running. End users might jump across IT to put things in the cloud themselves.

The lure of public cloud IaaS is certainly strong, and experts across the board predict that enterprises will take to it in some fashion or another to avoid expanding their data center footprints and to reduce the cost of supporting an agile business.

Stewart is definitely a believer. Although the public cloud has not been a silver bullet for all his data center woes, he contends it has lifted a significant burden. "If moving to the cloud only alleviates 20% of the load on our data center," he says, "it still represents an enormous reduction in cost. And as it matures, we'll be sure to take further advantage of it."

Sandra Gittlen is a freelance technology writer in the greater Boston area. She can be reached at sgittlen@verizon.net.

This story, "Moving to the cloud: Big savings, but plan ahead" was originally published by Computerworld.

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