AIT Invited to Present Cloud Computing Overview to Industry Group

AIT’s Manager of Systems Administration and Support was the guest speaker at a recent professional development meeting sponsored by the Highlands chapter of The Association for Operations Management (APICS). The presentation, Cloud Computing: Here and Beyond, not only explained and defined the growing phenomenon, but also related cloud computing to today’s business environment and forecasted what the future may hold.

In March of this year, AIT’s President and CEO Vaughn Moore gave a 2012 Transportation Outlook presentation to APICS in which he touched on cloud computing as an emerging trend. The topic piqued APICS members’ interest and they approached AIT to provide pertinent industry observations at their November 15 gathering.

Following a sit down dinner and announcements from the chapter’s president, AIT’s IT expert was invited to take the podium. His ensuing presentation addressed cloud computing in lay terms and offered real world examples to illustrate the concepts. At the outset, he introduced the characteristics of cloud computing including on-demand self service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured services.

With that groundwork in place, the presentation moved on to cover the three main service models as well as three cloud deployment models. Citing Gmail, other Google apps, Office 365 and LinkedIn as examples, Software as a Service (SaaS) was introduced as a form of cloud computing currently in widespread use. Moving on to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), virtualization technology – using just one server to perform the functions of dozens – was painted as the foundation of cloud computing. As an example of Platform as a Service (PaaS), AIT’s representative pointed out that a startup company could potentially run all their applications and servers in a public cloud environment with input from nothing more than a laptop in an entrepreneur’s basement, all but eliminating IT hardware expenses. He also mentioned that such an approach is more difficult for established organizations with integrated components that may not work in a cloud environment.

The conclusion summarized the pros and cons of cloud computing then offered a hypothesis about what the future may hold. Some of the strongest benefits identified were lower costs, scalability, redundancy, agile software development and the ability to rapidly respond to business drivers. By making smart cloud computing choices and carefully analyzing risk, companies can save thousands of dollars in hardware and energy costs while gaining previously unthinkable computing power and flexibility. On the other hand, security, dependence on the internet, portability, service level agreements and even the potential for increased costs were identified as challenges. Software integration came up again and was noted as perhaps the most difficult challenge, especially when firms have legacy or proprietary systems that may not work well (or at all) with the cloud services they wish to use.

Taking care to emphasize that speculations about the future of cloud computing were strictly his personal opinions, the networking professional from AIT suggested the trend would explode even more over the next five years. Rapid adoption of the technology was further predicted to cause a sharp rise in security incidents. Beyond 2017, a mass exodus to the cloud is possible which would perhaps lead to even more security breaches. Should these events come to pass, the thought was put forward that critical applications and data for many businesses would eventually be brought back in house to a private cloud since the public cloud would likely represent an enormous target for malicious attacks by hackers.

The APICS attendees were highly engaged as evidenced by the frequent questions posed throughout the course of the presentation. Audience queries led to relevant discussions about how AIT uses cloud computing, the definition and importance of latency and the relationship between virtualization and cloud computing.

About APICS:

The Association for Operations Management is the global leader and premier source of the body of knowledge in operations management, including production, inventory, supply chain, materials management, purchasing and logistics. Since 1957, individuals and companies have relied on APICS for its superior training, internationally recognized certifications, comprehensive resources and worldwide network of accomplished industry professionals.

The local Highlands chapter serves McHenry/Lake County, Elgin, Barrington, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, Hoffman Estates, Grays Lake and the surrounding areas; volunteers of the organization run chapter events and an array of educational programs and professional development seminars throughout the year. For more information, visit www.apics.org and www.highlandsapics.com.

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