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Cloud Computing: The New Service

The penny dropped when I started looking at cloud computing as a service rather than a new technology. In that respect it is more like Google search and a DotCom development than a set of software and hardware tools.

That was what I needed to get a better strategic grip on this new concept. As with all services, business strategies are key here, rather than technologies. As soon as it is seen as a technology customer issues often come in second, which then leads to a technology looking for a market.

Looking at it as a service leads to the use of cloud computing as a call centre service. There are some early pioneers, mainly in the USA. Within their service end-users or service providers can set up and operate a contact centre without any hardware, software or capital expenditure. These cloud operators use similar (if smaller!) data centres than Google—but the hubs are also connected directly into the public telephone network as well as the Internet.

Some of the other advantages include:

  • Agents can be anywhere in the world and can change call plan location in seconds
  • Fewer staff needed
  • After a couple of days training (ACD, CTI, IVR) staff can themselves make changes to the call plan
  • Changes made over the web from any browser
  • Multi-tenant solution means economies of scale
  • Can be set up in days

Various security aspects remain a key issue. Companies are beginning to recognise that, if well-planned, storing critical data in remote hosting facilities may even prove beneficial—rather than adding to risk, adopting this model could also be used as a way of making information more secure.

Of course, cloud computing services also need to follow internationally accepted security standards for financial services, credit card transactions, privacy regulations and so on. If companies don’t adhere to this it is the fault, not of the technology, but of the management implementing the service.

It is not long since the Dot com boom where a common question was ‘how on earth is anyone going to make money out of the Internet?’ Many organisations have figured this out and corporations globally are far more efficient than they have ever been, ripping vast layers of costs from their enterprise by using the web. A similar development is expected for cloud computing.

The market is growing at a rate of 25% per annum, albeit from a low level, and there is no end in sight. So over the next couple of years cloud computing will begin to make a serious impact in the way services can be delivered.

Another interesting example comes from Amazon. This company realised that they had spent all this time developing a fantastic infrastructure to run their business—they then decided to turn the infrastructure itself into a business and a few years ago Amazon Web Services (http://aws.amazon.com/) was born. AWS is comprised of several interesting elements, the most popular and oldest being EC2 and S3.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

This simple web service interface allows customers to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides them with complete control of their computing resources and lets them run on the company’s proven computing environment.

EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allows for quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as the user’s computing requirements change. It changes the economics of computing by allowing customers to pay only for capacity that they actually use. Amazon EC2 gives developers the tools to build failure-resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.

Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

It supplies a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of websites. The service aims to maximise benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

At the same time S3 stores files at a much cheaper price and customers only pay for exactly what they need.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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