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Business in the Cloud

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With more uses emerging and businesses large and small jumping on the bandwagon, cloud computing is taking the information technology sector by storm. (Nasdaq: TTGT), a global technology media company with more than 100 technology-specific Web sites, broadly defines cloud computing as anything that involves delivering hosted services via the Internet.

“I think we’re going to see cloud computing is the biggest thing in computing since the advent of the Internet,” said Greg Clift, president of PC Net and 85Under.

Cloud computing services are generally divided into three service categories: infrastructure, platform and software.

Microsoft has a growing cloud platform, and Apple in early June unveiled its iCloud service, enabling users to store documents and music online instead of on their hard drives or mobile phones.

Clift’s company plans to debut Cloud85, its private cloud computing solution, in August.

The concept and technology behind cloud computing has been around for a while, as Facebook, Google Docs and Amazon Web Services are hosted clouds.

Cloud computing is changing how businesses access data and applications. Companies can use cloud solutions to store data online, rather than on a physical server kept in-house.

And instead of installing software – Microsoft Office, for example – on each computer in an office, employees can access applications online via cloud computing.

“Microsoft … has its whole office suite of products available through a cloud service,” said Dirk Myers, who handles inside accounts and marketing for DaZZee Integrations. “Companies can basically pay for a subscription.”

Rather than buying licenses for various software products, companies pay for the particular products they use, and for the specific length of time in which they need them.

“The company can scale up or scale down as they need more services,” Clift added.

DaZZee Integrations and 85Under are among a growing number of companies with private cloud solutions for businesses that want one proprietary place for storage that can only be accessed by their employees.

Cloud computing has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting, according to

Cloud services are sold on demand – often by the minute or hour; they are elastic, giving users as much or as little of a service as they want to use; and the service is managed by the provider, so that all the user needs is a computer and Internet access.

While Clift’s company is still more than a month away from launching Cloud85, he said he’s already seeing a lot of interest in the service. By using the cloud, some businesses may “never have to buy a server again, never have to invest in server migration or schedule downtime for the company related to server migration,” Clift said.

And by using a private cloud solution, a business is essentially outsourcing many of its information technology needs.

“You’re moving IT to where the experts are,” Clift said.

Bolivar-based Duck Creek Technologies provides software for more than 40 insurance industry clients, including Humana and United Healthcare, and is considering developing a cloud computing option for its customers.

“It is an important part of our strategy,” said Michael Witt, vice president of product development.

But as for whether cloud computing will replace traditional software, Witt said he doesn’t see it as an “either/or” situation.

“I see cloud computing as an alternate way of delivering software,” he said, noting that Duck Creek is still determining how it will deliver its solution to clients.

Witt and others agree, though, that the interest in cloud computing will continue to increase.

“We will see a lot more about this,” he said.

Clift compares cloud computing to providing a utility service such as electricity or water.

“You’re going to see people turning it on for however long they need it, and knowing that the resource is going to be there for their use,” he said.

Myers noted, too, that using resources via cloud services may change where people work, because those resources can be accessed via the Internet from anywhere.

“This makes it easier to office from anywhere in the world,” Myers said.[[In-content Ad]]


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