Although migrating business applications to the cloud is a trend that is on the rise, many companies and organizations are apprehensive of moving their software from the desktop to the cloud. Some businesses may look at the process as being daunting, and something they cannot handle internally. Others may simply not want to break the “status quo” as they are so used to installing, running, and managing their software and applications on their own.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce that sets standards for science and technology. They released a definition of cloud computing to provide a baseline for what cloud computing is, cloud computing best practices, and as a means for comparing cloud services and deployment strategies.
The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”
The NIST’s Five Essential Characteristics
What the NIST outlines as the Five Essential Characteristics of Cloud Computing also serves as five benefits of migrating business productivity applications to the cloud.
1) On-demand self-service
Cloud applications allow businesses to move some of their IT management in-house. Traditional software models require the purchase of servers and software licenses while also factoring in costs for installing and maintaining the applications both on the server side and on each workstation. Cloud applications allow companies to manage their applications themselves as the bulk of the back-end work is taken care of by a cloud provider.
2) Broad network access
When an application is in the cloud, employees can access programs, documents, and other work related material on a multitude of devices. Mobile phones, tablets, desktops, and laptops all become a business productivity tool as the capabilities are accessed over a network connection. This helps to increase employee performance as well as improve collaboration.
3) Resource pooling
Within the NIST’s definition of cloud computing is a section on resource pooling. The paragraph-long explanation basically states that the customer has little involvement with system resources such as storage, memory, and processing capabilities – these are all managed by the service provider. This not only benefits the customer by removing responsibility for system maintenance, but is also gives smaller organizations access to enterprise level computing (through their cloud provider) that they would not be able to afford to purchase and maintain in-house on their own.
4) Rapid elasticity
As your company changes, you can adjust your business applications in the cloud accordingly. If an organization experiences rapid expansion, new licenses can be quickly purchased and implemented with little system installation. Because cloud applications are scalable, businesses only need to pay for what you need. If a company downsizes, the company can easily cancel subscriptions and scale their IT resources so that they aren’t spending money on resources they aren’t using.
5) Measured service
The cloud service provider is in charge of measuring and monitoring server performance, network usage, and processing. This reduces the need for in-house management and also decreases possible downtime. Cloud providers know they need to have contingency plans in place, and the redundancy of cloud-based applications means fewer service interruptions for the end user.