The following is a summary of a paper released by Accenture entitled ‘Six Questions Every Executive Should Be Asking about Cloud Computing’. This overview will quickly summarize the key points in helping you understand what you need to know about cloud computing, and if this is something that your company should pursue.
Question 1: What is Cloud Computing and what is its Path for Utilities?
Cloud computing can be defined as providing IT provisions for hardware, software or services by means of the internet. Cloud computing based functions allow for faster uploading and downloading times along with storage capabilities with no set limits. These variables allow a company to save costs yet have access to more data functions and capabilities as needed.
Some benefits of Cloud Computing are:
- Very little if any capital investment
- A pay-per-use price structure
- Quick acquisitions and deployments
- Lower operating costs when compared to in-house IT data centers
These benefits have led to two types of cloud computing being made available, Private Cloud and Public Clouds. Private Clouds are built within a company’s existing structure whereas Public Clouds enlist the use of IT functions from a third party.
When deciding which type of cloud computing to use the most common concerns are in the form of security. Is your data secured and can anyone else access your data? Private clouds are perceived as more secure and are a good interim solution.
Utility customers are becoming environmentally concerned. They are opting for online billing and payments in order to have a paperless environment. With these types of changes, the demand for computing power is higher than ever before.
For examples of how consumer based applications can be used in a cloud computing environment, take a look at Microsoft’s Hohm. This is a free application to show consumers how to conserve resources like electricity and natural gas.
Google’s PowerMeter home electricity cloud service allows some customers the ability to read meters through Google servers.
Question 2: What Benefits Can Cloud Computing Bring to My Company?
The top three basic benefits of cloud computing are:
When it comes to utilities, the benefits are even greater. With the introduction of smart grid and metering infrastructures the utility world is changing. You need to be aware that smart grid and smart metering are two separate identities. When these two functions are made available in the cloud, storage and speed will be optimized. With the insurgence of thousands of new clients, using cloud computing resources only makes sense. The cloud can easily handle this surge and then maintain a balance once the rush has died down.
Question 3: Can I Count on the Cloud to Save My Organization Money?
When asked this question, Accenture’s own response was that they could see saving as much as 50% on their own IT costs by using cloud computing. When it comes to saving money each organization must take the time to research their needs to see what costs savings they can perceive.
Studies need to be done on ROI’s and the cost of each service and function of the cloud. Each cloud computing service has a different price structure and all of this must be taken into account.
Question 4: How Will Clouds Affect the Way My Organization Operates in the Future?
Cloud computing is set to have a huge impact on a utility’s capabilities and operations when it comes to using smart grids. By analyzing data, outages can be predicted and hopefully prevented. The processing power of cloud computing will create tons of useful data for the utility company. This information can then be used to create products and new features for customers.
By using the cloud, real time services can be offered along with competitive prices plus customers can gain insight into how much power they are using right now! Smart grids will have an enormous impact on renewable energy costs which will help put the utility company in a favorable light. With the expected growth in electric vehicles this demand can be reduced by incorporating green energy practices.
Question 5: What Risks Must My Organization Manage?
The biggest risk for businesses is wondering if their data is secure or if it will get hacked or be given to the wrong people? For utility companies, the need to know local laws and abide by them will be imperative. Questions to ask are “Can you use a cloud service outside of your registered country and are you violating any privacy acts?”
Utilities have different levels of data which are more sensitive than others, so it may be best to store these levels differently on the cloud. The solution could be to use both a private and public cloud mixture. In essence creating an almost semi private/public cloud service.
Question 6: What Are My Next Steps?
Research is the key to making any informed decision. Functions such as Infrastructure, Platforms, Applications and Services must be taken into account. Transferring to cloud computing should involve the entire company and not just the IT department.
When choosing a cloud computing provider, you want to look at what they have in store for the future along with current services. Will they be able to meet your future requirements and keep up with technological advances? Are they ready and able to put new practices in place quickly?
The provider should have the resources to help you plan your needs based upon your budget. They should offer guidance and help your transition to cloud computing be smooth.
By focusing on these six points as laid out by Accenture in this report, you should easily be able to identify your cloud computing requirements. You will have enough information to analyse how and where you can cut costs, thus ensuring you are not spending more than what is required.
You can also keep up to date with current trends and technology by visiting Data Center Talk where we keep you informed on important changes as they occur.
Read on for Ways To Keep Cloud Costs Low.