In the past six months, we've unplugged 17 physical servers. That's right, turned them off. What were we using them for? Backup. DNS. FTP. Web Servers. Monitoring Systems. Email. Spam filtering. File Services. The list goes on.
While we still have some of this in house, it was helpful to reduce our electronic footprint by going to datacenters and to mostly cloud based services.
What is a cloud? I have a hard time explaining this. We use a PC endpoint security system that is delivered completely via the Internet. That provider does this via a distributed parallel computing system connected to the Internet and is worldwide. Is it cloud based? Yes, since it is everywhere at the same time. Is their application written and an application and OS-less? No. So it is cloud "friendly" but is not a complete cloud based system.
We have some VMWARE systems at a few datacenters. These are GUEST OS's running on top of hardware that may not actually have a running OS, but since the GUEST is a full OS, it is not "cloud based" but is connected in a way that allows us to move the image from one part of the country to another and crank it back up. So it is "cloud friendly" too. Still not a completely cloud based system.
Two VERY GOOD EXAMPLES of cloud based system:
1. Google Apps - Third Party developers write applications to Google's API and connect to Google. These API's can run AT GOOGLE in their cloud, so no hardware is necessary, nor a full OS.
2. Amazon - Amazon's Storage and S3 products are the same way. You can attach to them with many different 3rd party software. Our Windows Server customers use a subscription plan to backup their data to Amazon and get billed directly from them.
Why is Cloud based the way to go? We're not saying it is, but we've reduced our internal operating costs by over 80% across the board. We no longer maintain 17 different pieces of hardware, reduced our power bill, become much more distributed in the event of a disaster, and plays very nicely into our distater recovery planning for ourselves and for customers.
We haven't factored the reduced labor maintenance costs yet. We already know the contrast is stark!