Routes to Cloud Computing

This session at Orange Business Live 2010 looked at the hot topic of cloud computing and how companies can take advantage of this technology revolution. Earlier in the day Gartner suggested that by 2020, 20% of companies will not own their own IT assets by 2020. So how do companies get to this situation?

The biggest question surrounding cloud computing is still around security. Companies need to know that their data is still secure: is the data centre secure? Is the data stored correctly? And who has access to it? The connectivity to the cloud is also a key factor? If it is the Internet it won't offer quality of service or even security. Without matching the performance of existing infrastructure, cloud computing will struggle to gain acceptance.

There are two ends of the cloud computing spectrum: public and private. To find what part of the cloud computing spectrum they should choose, companies need to ask a series of questions, such as what types of applications are in the data center? Are they consolidated? Do IT staff need to be freed up from application maintenance? To what extent do you need to cut capex?

Orange can help businesses choose the right cloud computing solutions for them with its 'Cloud ready' assessment, which undertakes an assessment of the current infrastructure and suggests a migration path to cloud services, with the right level of security and quality of service.

The type of IT organization can also dictate the approach to cloud computing. For example, centralized IT can use private clouds and offer a standardized applications to the entire organization. Distributed or federated IT organizations do not have the same level of control and are probably better suited to accessing cloud computing applications through hybrid clouds.

Orange also spoke about its roadmap for cloud computing, which included a range of different services, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) delivered as public, private or hybrid clouds, through Flexible Computing; cloud based security, in the shape of the Web Protection Suite; unified communications; and real-time applications, such as fleet management and desktop as a service, all forming part of the Application Store.

An Orange R&D representative demonstrated the new self-provisioning cloud computing portal at the session and provisioned an actual virtual machine in under five minutes. The portal allows you to check on the status of your infrastructure and provision a new virtual machine from the resource pools you have in place. These use templates that could be customized or provided by Orange, such as a LAN server or a Linux machine.

Finally Orange demonstrated its application catalogue product, which is a way of delivering and provision cloud applications to users. End-users can customize how they view the portal to select what they need and are charged by how much they use it. The portal can include both Orange applications and the customer's own to create a unified view.

Orange has already delivered this solution to a large multinational with 30,000 users in over 60 countries and they are using it to deliver private and public applications including different service levels, validation workflow and report. The commercial release of the service is by the end of 2010. 

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.