Friday, March 30, 2012

Difference Between Cloud Computing and Utility Computing?

In many ways, cloud computing and utility computing are very similar. Both concepts revolve around the leasing of computing technology. In the past, companies were required to invest heavily in technology upfront, making it difficult for small and new companies to have the equipment needed to attain their business goals. Through services like utility computing and cloud computing, that upfront cost is largely offset, since companies lease what they need from month to month. As the need grows, so does the amount leased, therefore making it possible to customize computing costs at all points in time.

There are many parallels between these two computing styles. However, these two terms are not interchangeable, because there are key differences between them. Without understanding the depth of these differences, it is impossible to be fully aware of how either style can be most productive and beneficial in the computing realm, especially for specific computing tasks.

One of the fundamental differences between cloud computing and utility computing relates to nature of the leasing. While both styles utilize a third party for their software and infrastructure, utility computing involves much more direct access to these services. It is a straightforward rental, where the business is fully aware of the source of the services they are leasing. In essence, this style of computing makes the technology involved like another utility, and at the end of each month, businesses would be billed for their usage, just like water or electricity.

In this way, utility computing is relatively straightforward. Cloud computing, in contrast, is much less direct. While all the services are still being rented, the company knows far less about the source of the services. Users still pay for what they use, but the company providing the services utilizes a much more complex system of infrastructure and software, usually involving grid networks that support multiple tasks at once. In this way, cloud computing is actually more powerful, since it does not rely on any one source. By spreading out the task load, cloud computing can be a fast and effective means of computing, often with simplified troubleshooting and less maintenance overall.

This difference between cloud computing and utility computing is substantial, since it reflects a difference in the way computing is approached. Utility computing relies on standard computing practices, often utilizing traditional programming styles in a well-established business context. Cloud computing, on the other hand, involves creating an entirely distinctive virtual computing environment that empowers programmers and developers in new ways.

Even normal business computing tasks can look drastically different through these two computing styles. One such example is in costumer relationship management (CRM). This routine task involves the storage and use of client information, including contact details, contract specifics, and other related content. Through utility computing, businesses can easily maintain a traditional approach to CRM, and even companies that lack resources to invest heavily in infrastructure and software can still have a booming CRM program. This can be especially powerful for up and coming businesses, which may lack the capital needed to develop their own infrastructure but still need a way to maintain their thriving clientele base.

Through cloud computing, CRM can look radically different. While there is still less upfront cost through cloud computing, the approach to maintaining CRM changes drastically. The way the information is filed and accessed is enhanced through cloud computing, making the process faster and more accessible overall. All of this can be accomplished without any specific understanding of the technology that supports this interface, which allows for all attention to be diverted to the CRM processes themselves.

Ultimately, while utility computing and cloud computing both rely on a third party for much of their computing infrastructure, they reflect very different approaches to computing overall. Both can be a powerful method, but all businesses need to assess the details of these computing styles before deciding which method best suits their needs.

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