Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Life in the Cloud - Tech Forum Preview

Kip Turco, Senior VP of Data Center Operations at Windstream Hosted Solutions

My entrepreneurial friends have always delighted in telling me in how they’re able to move far more nimbly and effectively than their counterparts in larger, more established companies.  They’re right, of course; the ability to quickly identify an innovative opportunity and to rapidly take advantage of it is one of the key hallmarks that enable entrepreneurs to make an impact on the marketplace.

Traditionally, however, larger firms have enjoyed some advantages of their own.  Notably, the ability to build out an infrastructure that supports their development and implementation efforts.  They’ve historically had the money to buy what’s needed, and the people to operate it.

That’s all changing, however, and it’s changing rapidly as the concept of cloud-based computing moves into the mainstream.  You know that’s the case when attendees at the recent RSA Security conference in San Francisco move from worrying about the theory of storing data and operating applications in the cloud to actively talking about ways to ensure the safety of doing so.

The benefits of cloud computing, of outsourcing your capabilities to a trusted third party are well documented:  lower CapEx and operational costs, as well as faster time to implementation and results.  What’s emerged, however, is that the providers are generally providing a higher level of uptime and security than their clients could provide doing it themselves, without a significant spend.  The reason’s obvious:  the providers have to deliver that kind of reliability if notoriously risk-averse CIOs and CFOs are going to agree to outsource this kind of functionality to them. 

This is true, regardless of which level of service companies seek:  whether it’s online storage, online security, or even the complete outsourcing of a firm’s production infrastructure.  Providers must be able to deliver a superior level of uptime (approaching the “holy grail” of the “five nines”), as well as ensuring rapid, personal response when something…anything…goes wrong.

It’s because of this that my entrepreneurial colleagues have been able to steal some of the traditional advantage that larger firms have had.  By relying on a cloud-based infrastructure, they’re able to concentrate more fully on the passion, the cool idea that makes them what they are, and bringing it to market.  The folks at the RSA conference may have been talking about the reliability, and the security of the cloud;  entrepreneurs long ago identified it for what it really is…a way to level the playing field, thus allowing them to “one-up” their competitors.

Learn more about "Life in the Cloud" at CED's upcoming Tech Forum on March 9.

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