In a fast-changing IT landscape, I’m pleased that cloud architect and technology consultant, Steve Ash of Virtual Logic, has agreed to shed some light on the cloud and what it can mean for your business now and in the future.


When we were asked to contribute an insider’s view of ‘the cloud’ to a professional and well-informed audience, we examined the sheer quantity of facts, opinion and out-and-out hype that we witness every day as cloud consultants.

It is possible to conclude that cloud computing is either the most pervasive trend or the most over-used phrase in the computer industry. Clearly, it wasn’t always so. Until the early 2000s technology planners, geeks (like us) would draw fabulously complex system diagrams for their customers or employers. If an external service was needed, it required no further explanation, just a pictorial cloud, a philosophical ‘black box’.

The demand for these external services has grown exponentially over the last 15 years, and the ‘cloud’ has entered the public lexicon. It has evolved from that simple picture to mean dozens, possibly hundreds of different things, some with a fluffy, nebulous meaning, but some describe a set of actual core services, which boil down to three main variants.

Firstly, a public cloud, such as Google or Amazon Web Services, where you access exactly the computer resources you need, and either increase it or scale it back depending on your requirements. This will typically be on a ‘multi tenanted’ infrastructure, not on your premises (‘off-prem’).

Secondly, a private cloud, as the name suggests, are dedicated resources that only your organisation can access, which can be located either on-site or off-site.

The third variant is a hybrid cloud which, is a mix of both of the above. For the sake of clarity, we will only consider public cloud here. You will almost certainly already be a user, a fan, a critic. If you use Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook, somewhere along the line you will be using some shared computers along with several millions of other users, in other words, a public cloud service.

The goal of cloud computing is to revolutionise all IT and computing into a utility, as simple as the on/off concept of using a light switch. The impact of this simple goal is far-reaching. All organisations whether they are commercial, government, small, large, established or start-ups are making the decision to adopt the cloud, and usually public cloud, as opposed to private or hybrid cloud.

By adopting a public cloud infrastructure, organisations no longer need to invest capital in IT equipment; they no longer need to dedicate precious space to house their own servers and they no longer need to employ costly humans to manage and service it.

The cost savings in making this change can be over 75% of the total cost of ownership, depending on usage. But as dramatic as this sounds, cost savings are not the only driver. By adopting the cloud, in-house IT expertise can be focused on all important customer retention and acquisition. This is particularly important at a time when an understanding of social media and search engine optimisation (SEO) can provide a competitive edge.

There are many other benefits, including co-operative working, and access to data from anywhere (not always seen as an advantage!). We would highly recommend trying a service, even if it’s just as a familiarisation exercise; most reputable cloud vendors offer free trial periods.

There is one caveat, however. Although it can take just five minutes to get online with the cloud, any time that you spend planning your objectives before taking the plunge will pay dividends. If you need any help with this planning, have any questions or would like to see how people are using the cloud, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Steve Ash
Virtual Logic