Cloud computing is maturing. Unfortunately, businesses are not yet ready to exploit the huge potentials of the Cloud fully. The weak exploitation of the Cloud is a challenge that must be addressed if businesses are to obtain the promised benefits of the technology.

At the heart of this “weak exploitation” is a vague understanding of “value” delivery by Cloud computing. This prevents the complete and wholesale adoption of the Cloud with its various flavorings–“Software-as-a-Service”, “Platform as a Service” and “Infrastructure as a Service”—and different types—Public, Private and Hybrid.

Additionally, there is a conviction that the Cloud is an abstract concept with nebulous boundaries. It is “somewhere out there” and once data or application is transferred to the Cloud, the organization ceases to have control over the data or application and the business is vulnerable to any kind of cyber crime. While the first concern is around the delivery of business value, the second is a pure IT architecture question.

Taking up the second question first, Cloud computing is not an abstraction. The term “Cloud” is used to describe the way in which the Internet is used to connect to a remote server located at a geographically distant data center. The Cloud service may provide the user with software, platform or infrastructure services over a private, public or hybrid Cloud architecture. The type of Cloud architecture used will determine the level and type of security boundaries that are offered. In public Clouds, the security and privacy boundaries may be defined at a software level. In private Clouds, the security level may be both at the hardware and software level, and the hybrid Cloud will exploit combinations of private and public Cloud architectures.

Business value delivery by the Cloud is very specific. The Cloud reduces capacity deployment by increasing capacity utilization. When this is combined with virtualization, the number of physical servers in use is drastically lowered. Further, the Cloud provides for unprecedented flexibility as data and application provisioning is dynamic and there is a significant reduction in the time to market. Moreover, Clouds are built around the operative concerns of the business, such as: information security, data residency for legal jurisdiction, regulatory compliance, interoperability across Cloud services, etc.

Fortunately, early adopters of the Cloud have had a very positive experience. There is a wealth of information available on how to achieve a best fit scenario with Cloud computing. A little hard work and due diligence will go a long way towards making the organization’s experience of the Cloud a wonderful one.