Cloud as a Business Enabler

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Cloud is the buzz word of the decade. Lots of people are talking about it, but most people aren't sure how to best utilize it for their business. I would like to tell you some of the ways I think we can use it. From the start-up that can create a online business with no up-front cost, to an enterprise who is looking for a way to reduce their infrastructure cost. 
 
Probably the most exciting trend of 2010's is the resurgence of technologies start-ups attracting venture capital. Many of the Business Review Weekly Young Rich List for 2012 were young Australians who have attracted large investments for their technology. Atlassian top the list, with their software company operating out of Silicon Valley. 
 
With cloud technologies like Platform as a Service (PaaS), it's very easy for technology companies to host their website online. Openshift for example provides free hosting for sites handling only a small amount of load. If your site becomes popular, you can scale out on PaaS with only minimal cost compared to traditional data warehouses. This is allowing technology start-ups to go to market quickly with new ideas. Also it's a great way for established companies to test new products and markets. 
 
For enterprises that are looking to cut costs in their difficult economic times, cloud technologies can be a great way to outsource the cost of maintaining infrastructure to other organizations. Of course, if you are trusting your software hosting to another company you need to trust that they will not let you down, and you need to be sure that your data is going to be available and secure. These are the challenges we are tackling today, and who better to trust with these problems than Red Hat, whom you already trust to support your valuable infrastructure. 
 
Of course you probably want to maintain control of your own infrastructure and data to some extent, so keeping some of your own servers is a good idea. Products like CloudForms are talking this problem, but allowing you to scale your existing applications onto cloud services, such as Amazon EC2 at the click of a button. You use it by creating a template of the software RPM packages your servers require, then at the click of a button, you are able to deploy a new server using that template. Currently you can deploy to Red Hat Virtualization (RHEV), vSphere, and EC2. Assuming you are already using RHEV or vSphere, it's easy to see how you could expand your applications onto the cloud with minimal effort. 
 
How about having less types of technologies and frameworks to maintain? Standardizing a set of technology is a great way for enterprises to manage their costs. For example, many organizations would have multiple types of databases, and tens of different languages their support. Moving towards a homogeneous set of technologies will reduce maintenance cost in the long term, even if you may disgruntle a few developers a long the way. As long as they have a easy way to get started developing, they should comply. 
 
PaaS running inside your corporate infrastructure can help you standardize your technology. Openshift offers developers self-help services, were they can create new applications without asking the infrastructure team to do it for them. These applications can be created from a selection of technology which is tailored to the organization. If the development team want to start working a new technology, they should formally request that it be added to the Openshift selection (as a cartridge). That way you have more control over what is being using in your organization. 
 
I have presented what I think are the best ways business can utilize cloud technologies, including PaaS. These include going to market quickly with new sites, that can quickly scale out. As well as reducing cost by scaling existing applications into the cloud. Also standardizing technologies to reduce costs. All these use cases can be addressed with Red Hat technologies, a brand you already know and trust.