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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Using Cloud computing as back-up option

Remmy Nweke in this report examines the advantages of using Cloud Computing as alternative back-up, especially for developing countries.

Since the advent of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in Nigeria, Chuks Egbune, a public relations analyst has chosen to follow the part of being ICT compliant and as a youthful Nigerian, full of energy, if he is classified often as online person, Chuks is not likely to agree otherwise.

So, he soon commenced a book project after finishing his Master’s degree programme, as an activity to keep his intelligence warm while waiting for the result to come.
Factually, he has finished the concept, planning, and designing, and has just written his boss for some permission and assistance in terms of salary advance to ensure that the dream comes through.

Unfortunately for him, the same week he applied for salary advance, his laptop, a Siemen model, which has been the sole incubator of the book project; went blank. Initially, he thought it was a mere electrical fault that could be rectified as soon as techies touch it.

So, he summoned his technical person, ‘Dayo Pc’ who used to practice his artisan at the Otigba Market, popularly known as Computer Village in Ikeja suburb of Lagos, who soon after took the laptop with intention to fix it, at least, before the end of work-hours the following being a Monday.

Eventually, all these plans became a nightmare as 11 months later, Dayo Pc is yet to return the laptop or even fix it as promised. One of his reasons being that he, Dayo, has been fully-employed by a company in Sango Ota, Ogun State, near Lagos State; which has made it impossible for him to devote time to fix the laptop since he works Mondays to Saturdays.

Then came after much pressure, the story from Dayo Pc that the laptop’s motherboard was bad, hence he had arranged with a trader on computer parts at the Computer Village to assist him in buying the kind of Siemens motherboard when he travels to China on business trip. Just as the time factor crept due to whenever he went to the Village, the China-bound trader was never around to ascertain whether he was able to buy the needed Pc motherboard or not.

Of course, tired of waiting for Dayo Pc and engaging in literally ‘computer prostitution’ by borrowing laptops from a few immediate family members, lasting weeks to months, he called to mind of his external hard-disk drive and took a decision to access it next weekend. Again, Chuks was unfortunate with the external
drive as it could not be accessible with any other computer, be it laptop or desktop.

Another difficulty emerged when the hard-disk drive was taken to Computer Village in search of a solution despite that his laptop could be hanging somewhere in the corner of the market, that is, even if Dayo Pc would still remember where. His trip to Computer Village was not successful as it did not yield the needed result due to his inability to locate anyone of the notable computer artisans to open it for the same reason that it does not show on any PC.

Now, while lamenting his ordeal to a close friend, who reminded him of a discussion they had earlier on Cloud Computing, a few months ago. This friend, Okwudinma, recollected that if he had stored the book project electronically online either by sending a copy of it to himself or by saving it as a draft mail after attachment has completed; it should have saved him the anguish he is currently going through, trying to reproduce the book.

Due to the merits of Cloud Computing, Chuks decided to dig more on the subject.

Experts at Cloud Computing Journal have described the element of cloud “as a virtualization of resources that maintains and manages itself.” While those experts at HowStuffWorks.com noted that the application allow users to log into a Web-based service, which hosts all the programmes to deliver on job demand, and went on to define Cloud Computing as a remote machines owned by another company would run everything from electronic mail (email) to word processing as well as complex data analysis programmes. Cloud computing, they said, could change the entire computer industry globally.

Additionally, experts at HowStuffWorks.com predicted that in a cloud computing system, there is a significant workload shift. Pointing out that whereas the local computers no longer have to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to running applications; the network of computers that make up the cloud handles them instead.

They argued that the hardware and software demands on the user’s side would be reduced, highlighting the fact that the only thing the user’s computer needs to be able to run is the cloud computing system’s interface software, which could be as simple as a Web browser, and the cloud’s network takes care of the rest.

Participants at the recent West Africa Internet Governance Forum in Dakar, Senegal, noted that as much as they approve further exploration of the technology, it is inimical for government at any level to host its data on cloud computing.

Recognizing the importance of the subject matter, WAIGF participants said, discussing cloud is good for the future of the internet and its prospects.

Information expert at IBM, Mr. Kelly Sims while speaking on the launch of the firm’s new cloud computing consulting and implementation services, said that it helps new clients to move into the cloud, thereby encouraging businesses of all sizes to take advantage of this increasingly-attractive computing model. IBM said, applying its industry-specific consulting expertise and established technology record to offer secure, practical services to companies in public, private and hybrid cloud models.

Sims said, industry-specific Business Consulting Services for Cloud Computing by IBM’s Global Business Services uses an economic model for assessing the total cost of ownership for building private clouds, and or moving data as well as applications off-site in a public or hybrid cloud model.

Also, Sims said that on technology consulting, design and implementation services, IBM Global Technology Services’ new services would help clients install, configure and deliver cloud computing inside the data center.

“While the economics are compelling to businesses of all sizes, concerns over security, data portability and reliability are causing reluctance among enterprise customers,” Sims said.

Intel’s Public Relations Manager, South and Sub-Saharan Africa, Ntombezinhle Modiselle, said recently that the firm’s Cloud 2015 vision has three key elements, namely a “federated” cloud that allows enterprises to share data across internal and external clouds; an “automated” network that automatically allows the secure movement of applications and resources to significantly improve energy efficiency in data centers; and PC and device-savvy “client-aware” clouds that know what types of applications, commands and processing should take place in the cloud or on your laptop, smartphone or other devices, thus taking a user and specific device’s unique features into account to fully optimize an online experience.

Intel, Modiselle said, would support these goals by creating software and building new capabilities into Intel Xeon processors, which include features such as Intel Virtualization Technology and Intel Trusted Execution Technology form the basis of cloud computing today.

Intel, he said, embraces the Open Data Center Alliance’s vision and goals as well as plans to deliver products and solutions consistent with these goals, stressing that Intel will work with its hardware and software partners, engaging the industry to innovate on open standards, delivering a faster ramp to the next stage of the Internet, and deliver an open, interoperable and secure cloud that will empower the next generation of business, movies, gaming, music, social media and other yet-to-be-invented Web services.

ITRealms Online learnt that while the alliance determines future requirements for cloud infrastructure, the Intel Cloud Builders programme will help bring these requirements to life with full solutions, which now has a total of 20 reference architectures with several more on the horizon.

“It represents a community of the most critical providers of technology in the cloud, including Canonical, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, EMC, Enomaly, Eucalyptus Systems, Gproxy, HP, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Microsoft, NetApp, NetSuite, Novell, Parallels, Red Hat, Univa and VMware,” Skaugen noted.

And for president, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Mr. Chris Uwaje, cloud computing, could be likened to ‘Internet Computing,’ which is a fast-growing trend towards the sharing of applications, software and other Information Technology (IT) resources by companies on an on-demand basis, thus qualifying in Nigeria’s slag as pay-as-you-go.

Cloud-based service providers, he said, supply these resources the same way as public utility companies supply electricity or water to consumers, and then bill for the quantities used.

On the global scene, an increasing number of Small Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are getting a grip on the technology because of its ability to cut costs and reduce the need for capital equipment – both hardware and software.

Despite an incorrectly perceived level of complexity, it is mostly common business applications that are provided, all of which are easily accessed from a web browser.

But more importantly, the technology enables budget-strapped companies to achieve high-quality solutions with limited capital. The cost of entry is low; some compare it to a developing country that implements wireless networks without ever building a landline telephone infrastructure. As needed, businesses can tap ‘clouds’ of computing power, without regard to where the cloud is physically or without the complexities of managing it.

As a result, small and midsize organisations gain better redundancy and continuity than they usually have for internally managed applications. However, the primary driver of cloud computing is the low cost of the service.

Recent surveys support the finding that the uncertain economic climate will accelerate the growth prospects for the cloud computing model as vendors position offerings as right-sized, zero-CAPEX alternatives to on-premise applications.

Locally, ICT experts have advised the Federal Government to support ‘cloud computing,’ a system equally defined as the future of high-tech computing.
Uwaje, said that it’s the next big thing to happen to any IT industry, stressing that it would boost small businesses in the country.

“Cloud computing is a commercial term for internet business, and Nigerians should not be left out of the game. Indeed, it will dictate the economic, social and cultural survivability of nations. One can rightly say that the internet is and remains the root and origin of cloud computing,” he observed.

In addition, chief executive of Infoware Nigeria, Uwa Agbonile, reportedly corroborated Uwaje, saying that cloud computing could aid small medium enterprises to reduce their total cost of ownership of technology, using hosted solutions.

Director, Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mr. Malcolm Johnson, recently noted that cloud computing could assist small medium-sized enterprises reduce cost on infrastructure, also said cloud computing offers speed and streamlines application deployment without upfront capital, stressing that for this reason alone, many businesses are now considering adaptation of the cloud model to provide more efficient and cost-effective network services.

In summary, Cloud Computing facilitates gaining of access to one’s applications from anywhere, and at any time, as long as there is internet access and the data centre where the documents are being hosted is live.

For Chuks, it’s a lesson never to forget, thus bringing to the fore that every step in life is a lesson opportunity, but don’t forget the issue of adaptation of cloud computing, before it becomes too late.

Before then, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) need to advice the government and at large, Nigerians on this technology or possibly come out with a white paper on Cloud Computing in Nigeria.

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