Cloud Computing continues to be a major topic of interest to enterprise IT organisations as they explore the strategic, economic and architectural value of Cloud-based services. 2010 will see every major IT vendor and service provider moving to offer or enable Cloud-based services. You must be prepared to reap the potential benefits while managing the potential risks.

MWD Research Director Neil Ward-Dutton hosted the first MWD CIO Debate Webinar on the cloud computing, which can be accessed here, and below is an abstract of the issues covered.

"There's a lot of hype and one vendor is already talking about Cloud 2.0 and there is still a lot of discussion on the scope of cloud computing," Ward-Dutton says of the confusing landscape CIOs face when considering adding cloud computing to their own organisations.

Ward-Dutton began the webinar by demonstrating how we have arrived at cloud computing through a history of time-shared computing, application service providers (ASP), datacentre outsourcing and web services integration.

MWD splits cloud computing into three distinct propositions for the CIO: the cloud (the internet); Cloud Computing platforms; and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which are similar in that they all offer a plug-in and go experience. The key elements of all three are that there is a standardised and shared service, users pay on a consumption basis and there is an agreed level of service.

CIOs considering a cloud strategy need to think along three elements of demand which match up to the opportunities that cloud computing offers. Considering cloud computing a CIO must evaluate the economic, architectural and strategic elements. The economic value comes from removing capital expenditure involved in investing in new applications and adding new tools to the operating cost. As an architectural tool, cloud computing has already gained a reputation for quickly delivering requirements. Strategically cloud computing has many similar advantages to outsourcing, you the CIO don't have to own the infrastructure your organisation trades on.

Private clouds have entered the lexicon of late and Ward-Dutton describes these as a valid offering to CIOs, but outlines that what they really are is cloud inspired computing as they often entail the infrastructure still being in the ownership of the CIO. "Cloud is not a model of technology ownership," he says.

Where MWD see cloud really helping CIOs is in the short term needs that are placed onto IT teams, examples include testing and developing new applications or online marketing campaigns. "You can match your cloud investment exactly. So a three month marketing campaign means a three month rental of a cloud application."

MWD expect to see SaaS dominate the adoption of cloud computing as it alleviates the need to put capex into applications that do not help distinguish your organisation. Therefore sales automation tools like make good sense.

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CIO Debate on Cloud Computing Part 1

Making the business case for cloud based computing

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