IT Leaders Forum: Shedding light on cloud computing

For some, cloud computing represents a return to the era of the mainframe, when dumb terminals connected to central computers serving thousands of users.

This, of course, is a gross over-simplification of a revolution that is happening in computing, one that will turn the IT department and IT staff careers upside down, but which promises more flexible and adaptable computing power.

If you look at the next five to seven years, most organisations will be in the cloud, says Josko Grljevic (pictured), head of information systems at But it will be very difficult to differentiate yourself in the cloud unless you do something smart.

Nevertheless, is currently considering a shift to a public cloud so that it can hand over management of the physical server hardware to a specialist cloud hosting organisation, such as Microsoft Azure or Rackspace, thus freeing up Grljevics team to focus on applications.

Likewise, Stephen Anderson, datacentre engineer at Intel IT Engineering, believes that cloud will become the norm within the next five years. We will have a federated, open cloud so that we can seamlessly link everything, everywhere, whenever we require it, says Anderson.

Intel spent over a decade moving its systems to an internal cloud. Our journey to the cloud has been going on for about 12 years, says Anderson. We originally started with a horrible, post-millennial sprawl of servers that we moved to shared services. In the mid-2000s, we did virtualisation and then moved into the full cloud in about 2009.

However, because Intel remains reluctant to host its intellectual property from customer information to proprietary semiconductor technology outside of its firewall for security reasons, Anderson sees the public cloud being used more for extra compute power and capacity at Intel, rather than for hosting and running core data and applications. Vendor lock-in: going up (not down)

There could be other reasons, too, for Intel and other companies unwillingness to adopt the public cloud such as fears of vendor lock-in and the reluctance of software vendors to license their products under cloud-friendly tariffs.

Every cloud provider wants to leverage and extend their reach with you. So, we have Microsoft email and Microsoft absolutely wants to push its whole collaboration suite, says John Harris, vice president of global strategy at pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

At the same time, though, has its own suite of social collaboration tools, which it also wants to push on customers. In addition, collaboration tools such as Yammer recently acquired by Microsoft have also infiltrated the workplace under the IT departments radar, adding to the complexity.

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IT Leaders Forum: Shedding light on cloud computing

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