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Note from the President:
Forecast for Clouds
"Cloud computing" has been receiving a lot of fanfare lately. There are several "cloud" companies popping up, new trade shows focused on the topic, and a lot of vendors are talking about various offerings "out in the clouds." Analysts such as The Gartner Group have said cloud computing will be as influential as e-business. Clearly it is an emerging computing model which needs to be considered in the appropriate situations.
First, a "cloud" is simply a term that refers to a complex infrastructure that exists to serve a certain purpose out on the Web. The complexity of the infrastructure is hidden and can be rented for use by accessing it from an endpoint usually via an application, a Website, or even a mobile device. This concept enables a massively scalable technology to then be provided "as a service" to a wide variety of clients who aren't concerned how the technology works, but rather just work for the purpose of the specific end result.
This isn't a new concept. For example, we all tap into the electricity cloud every day via the outlets in our house because this is less complex and less costly than trying to maintain our own generators. The cost of this shared electricity infrastructure can be amortized across many customers who don't need to focus effort on power generation, making it an attractive business proposition for everyone involved.
The current "cloud" in the technology business involves computing resources out on the Web. One example is the "data cloud" that StrikeIron has built. This cloud enables our customers to access external data and Web services that exist out on the Web within our data centers (hence the "cloud") rather than buying the hardware to store it, database licenses and software to run it, and the resources to manage it all. It's just easier to tap into the StrikeIron cloud to get this data and share the costs of the external infrastructure with other companies who have the same need.
For example, why download updates to tax rate databases every month when you can store them in an internal database, integrate it with applications and test with each update? It is much easier to incorporate a single line of code that requests an up-to-date tax rate whenever it needs one from the Web. No downloads, no updates, no maintenance, no ongoing testing. It's just dramatically less complex and cheaper to tap into a data cloud rather than manage the data internally. This simplicity and cost reduction for leveraging external data is why StrikeIron has seen the growth that it has. This trend will continue as more and more organizations experience these same results.