Microsoft and analyst firm Freeform Dynamics have produced Cloud Computing for Dummies, a book intended as a basic introduction for a business audience to cloud computing and how the technology is best employed.
Following the format of the familiar For Dummies series, the new book is aimed at people who may be unsure about the benefits of cloud computing, but who keep hearing the buzzword cropping up everywhere.
A relatively slim volume at not much more than 30 pages, the book is divided into five chapters starting with a definition of cloud computing, then providing information on what it can do for businesses, advice on adopting an approach, and a final chapter containing tips.
"The important thing to realise is that cloud isn't one thing, but lots of things lumped together under one umbrella. People can look at this book and pick up the business issues that trigger the need for these," said David Tebbutt, programme director at Freeform Dynamics.
Tebbut said that a survey of 477 organisations by Freeform Dynamics last year revealed that 49 per cent were not yet using cloud computing, 41 per cent were selectively using some cloud resources, but only 10 per cent were adopting it enthusiastically.
Cloud computing is a nebulous term that can include applications delivered as software-as-a-service, online storage, and hosting of virtual machines in a service provider's datacentre.
Microsoft's Azure, for example, provides a mix of services including hosted compute capability for running code, online storage and an online SQL database, while Amazon's EC2 platform provides customers with virtual server instances on which to deploy applications of their choice.
How businesses make use of cloud facilities can vary by their size, according to Tebbutt, with enterprises often using them as an extension of their existing infrastructure, while smaller companies can use cloud-based resources to get the benefits of IT without having to invest in costly infrastructure and the staff to operate it.
"Development and testing is the classic example in the enterprise. New applications can prove very expensive if they fail, whereas cloud lets you develop them using outsourced infrastructure," said Matt Deacon, chief architectural advisor for Microsoft's Developer and Platform group.
"From a business perspective, it's not about buzzwords but about what brings a competitive advantage, such as avoiding the cost of deploying applications locally and having online access to data," said Koby Amedume, platform marketing lead for Microsoft's Developer and Platform group.
Tebbut said that most organisations will inevitably end up with a mix of internal and cloud-based IT, depending on what best fits their needs.
"Anyone who thinks they can move their whole business to the cloud and then just sit back, needs their head examined. It's an opportunity to do things that you can't do internally," he said.
Although Cloud Computing for Dummies is backed by Microsoft, the content of the book is provided by Freeform Dynamics and does not endorse any particular cloud platform, according to Tebbutt.
The book is not available for sale, so those interested in acquiring copies will need to send a request to the following email address: [email protected].
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