Updating your understanding of Cloud Computing

Cloud training, education & certification are becoming increasingly imperative

A great number of IT and technical professionals (who regularly use advanced computing services) are slowly discovering that their knowledge base might be lacking when it comes to certain modern or emerging technologies. While this is not terribly surprising (happens all the time), the thing that makes this scenario different is that these shortcomings are often related to cloud computing.

Just what is cloud computing you ask? Perhaps a better way of explaining what cloud computing is would be to start by detailing what traditional IT entails.

In the standard, traditional IT model you basically have grids or matrices of self contained machines which are connected to a network which then interfaces with servers and other hardware. These servers essentially ferry information to and from the internet, acting as riverboat captains carrying supplies from one shore to the other (pardon the analogy). While this model certainly works, it does have its pitfalls. For example, under traditional IT and networking, businesses who have a number of individual machines will find that a great deal of energy (electricity) is wasted due to the fact that most of these computers will be left constantly running without actually providing any work or benefit. In other words, a large percentage of a company’s annual energy budget will go toward powering machines which are doing no work. Additionally, each one of these machines will require constant upgrades in terms of OS, hardware and software (as well as peripherals, etc…). Moreover, each individual machine on the network will likely also be vastly overpowered in terms of processing ability for the tasks it is to be used for. The point is, traditional IT is extremely wasteful in a number of ways in addition to being somewhat inefficient.

Cloud computing on the other hand, is the answer to (or rather, evolution of) traditional IT. In a true cloud IT / networking model, there are a series of individual computers or terminals which all have limited internal hardware, software and OS’s. These user terminals connect to a central cloud which is then able to provide virtualized services which behave in nearly the same manner as a self-contained machine. In other words, an individual users’ machine will actually be an virtual instance of a computer in which hardware, software and the OS are simulated and distributed remotely to the individual. Think of it as being able to remotely access the innards of your computer instead of having them tucked away inside of it. The difference however is that clouds are able to elastically distribute processing power upon demand. Machines which are not active can also be shut off; the energy and processing power from the inactive machines can then be rerouted to those users who are online and need it.
The truth is, cloud computing solves a great number of problems for business in terms of being able to deliver technology while at the same time, making energy consumption more efficient. But the fun doesn’t end there; with cloud computing, it’s also much easier to integrate and deploy individual applications and web services (which are quickly becoming crucial for many modern businesses). For instance, if an app is added to a cloud it can be copied more easily, which makes access for individual users much more streamlined and friendly. Likewise, those companies which take the time to build their own private clouds often find that they are able to accomplish much more with their IT resources than ever before. Also, given that a cloud is basically a massive, centralized super-computer, servicing and maintaining IT is also much more intuitive and doesn’t require personnel to schlep all over the company’s premises in order to resolve individual technical issues or initiate upgrades.

However, as you might expect, taking advantage of cloud computing is not as simple as simply purchasing the hardware or provider services and pressing play. Transitioning to cloud computing should be a deliberate and calculated process which is accomplished over a period of time.

One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of any transition is often education, or rather, the level of understanding possessed by a business’ IT department with regards to cloud technology. It’s very hard to imagine any organization taking advantage of (or perhaps even utilizing) cloud computing without having qualified personnel on hand who know how to service and maintain these types of systems. This extends into the area of being able to integrate and manage emerging software and services as well; cloud computing is still growing, and new technologies will often need to be assimilated so that a business can compete. The easiest and most inexpensive way of landing truly qualified cloud professionals for your operation is to simply educate the professionals you already have on hand. Through e-learning, professionals can attain certification and training in virtually every cloud computing discipline out there; preparing them for all the challenges they will face on the job and in their future careers. What makes e-learning so superior is its convenience; students can complete their course entirely online and access them from virtually any device imaginable in any location they desire (and at any time).

Since cloud computing is (by all measure accounts) replacing traditional IT, it only makes sense that training and certification in this area should be very high on one’s priority list. Top experts are predicting that soon we will see what amounts to a global cloud computing takeover in which virtually every business will be utilizing cloud computing in lieu of traditional IT. This startling realization should be a revelation for IT professionals; who should not hesitate to familiarize themselves with the finer points of cloud computing ASAP.

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