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Once it’s grown beyond just a handful of employees, an organization needs a way of sharing information. Imagine a flower shop with twenty employees. The person who takes phone orders needs access to the store’s customer list, as do the delivery person and the bookkeeper. Now, the store may have one computer and everyone could share it. It’s more likely, however, that there are a number of computers (several for salespeople, one for delivery, and one for bookkeeping). In this case, everyone needs to be sure that customer records have been updated on all computers every time that a change is required.
Likewise, many companies want their personal computers to run their own software and process data independently. But they also want people to share databases, files, and printers, and they want them to share applications softwareSoftware that performs a specific task, such as word processing or spreadsheet creation. that performs particular tasks, including word processing, creating and managing spreadsheets, designing graphical presentations, and producing high-quality printed documents (desktop publishing).
The solution in both cases is networking—linking computers to one another. The two major types of networks are distinguished according to geographical coverage:
Figure 15.7 Local Area Network (LAN)
Like the one in Figure 15.7 "Local Area Network (LAN)", some networks are client-server systemsSystem connecting client machines (which are used by employees for data input and retrieval) and a server (that stores shared databases and programs)., which include a number of client machines (the ones used by employees for data input and retrieval) and a server (which stores the database and the programs used to process the data). Such a setup saves time and money and circulates more-accurate information.
A cloud is a “visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the ground.”“Cloud,” Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cloud (accessed November 15, 2011). The term “cloud computingCloud computing means performing computer tasks using services provided over the Internet.” means performing computer tasks using services provided over the Internet.Melanie Pinola, “What Is Cloud Computing?,” About.com, http://mobileoffice.about.com/od/workingontheroad/f/cloudcomputing.htm (accessed November 15, 2011). So how do you connect the two definitions? When IT professionals diagrammed computer systems, they used a cloud symbol to represent the Internet. So when you hear or read that an individual or company is using the “cloud” or technology firms, such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Salesforce.com, are offering cloud services, just substitute the word “Internet” for “cloud” and things will make sense.
You might be surprised to learn that you’re already using the cloud—that is if you use Facebook (which is very likely—in fact, just mentioning Facebook here might prompt you to stop studying and check out your friends’ pages). How do you know that Facebook is a cloud application? Remember the trick: just substitute the word “Internet” for “cloud.” The Facebook computer application lets you store information about yourself and share it with others using the Internet.
Think about the functional areas of business you’ve explored in this text: accounting, finance, human resources, management, marketing, operations, and product design. Now imagine you’re Katrina Lane, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Caesars Entertainment, who is responsible for the information technology needed to handle multiple tasks in all these functional areas. You’re sitting at your desk when Gary Loveman, chief executive officer of Caesars, walks in and gives you the news. Caesars just purchased the Planet Hollywood Casino and Resort in Las Vegas and will open up two new casinos in Ohio in 2012. This is good news for the company, but it means a lot of work for you and your staff.
You wonder whether this might be the time to outsource some of your computing tasks to a technology firm specializing in cloud computing. You remember an example that really makes sense:Paul Gil, “What Is Cloud Computing?,” About.com, http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/c/f/cloudcomputing.htm (accessed November 15, 2011). Right now, whenever Microsoft comes out with a new version of Word, Caesars has to pay $350 per PC for the latest version. Wouldn’t it make more sense to rent the use of the Microsoft Word program from a cloud vendor for say $5 a month (or $60 a year)? Given that the average time between new releases of Word is two years, your total cost per PC would be $120 (2 × $60)—a savings of about $230 per PC ($350 − $120). Your employees wouldn’t mind; instead of working offline, they would just login to the Internet and work with their online version using the files that were saved for them. And the members of your IT staff would be pleased that they wouldn’t need to install the new version of Word on all your PCs.
Companies can contract for various cloud computing services. The Microsoft Word example discussed previously is classified as software as a service (SaaS)The software as a service category of cloud computing gives companies access to a large assortment of software packages without having to invest in hardware or install and maintain software on its own computers.. This type of service gives companies access to a large assortment of software packages without having to invest in hardware or install and maintain software on its own computers. The available software, which includes e-mail and collaboration systems and customer relationship management programs, can be customized and used by an individual client or shared among several clients. A second type of service is called infrastructure as a service (IaaS)A technology firm offering infrastructure as a service provides users with hardware, including servers, central processing units, network equipment, and disk space.. Instead of providing users with software, a technology firm offering infrastructure as a service provides hardware, including servers, central processing units, network equipment, and disk space.“Software as a Service/ Infrastructure as a Service,” Thrive Networks, March 2009, http://www.thrivenetworks.com/resources/march-2009-software-as-a-service.html (accessed November 15, 2001). The most successful IaaS provider is Amazon Web Services.“Infrastructure as a Service,” Best Price Computers, http://www.bestpricecomputers.co.uk/glossary/infrastructure-as-a-service.htm (accessed November 15, 2011). The company rents computer power and storage to users who access their data via the Internet. The last as-a-service model is called platform as a service (PaaS)Those offering the platform as a service category of cloud computing provide services that enable users to develop customized web applications.. Those offering platform as a service provide services that enable users to develop customized web applications. Because they don’t have to start from scratch but rather build on existing platforms made available by the service provider, the web applications can be developed quickly.
"Traditional business applications and platforms are too complicated and expensive. They need a data center, a complex software stack, and a team of experts to run them."
In making your final decision (as the pretend chief technology officer for Caesars) you should consider these advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing:
Shifting some of Caesars’s IT functions to the cloud would produce a number of advantages:
Although the advantages of moving to a cloud environment outnumber the disadvantages, the following disadvantages are cause for concern:
So, pretend chief technology officer for Caesars, what’s your decision: will you get on the cloud or stay on the ground? If you are curious about what the real chief technology officer did, she took the high road and transferred a number of applications to Salesforce.com’s Web-based Force.com’s cloud applications service.“Caesars Entertainment Hits the Efficiency Jackpot with Force.com,” Salesforce.com, http://www.salesforce.com/showcase/stories/caesars.jsp (accessed November 16, 2011).
There are two systems that can satisfy both needs.