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Put the Cloud to Work For Your Organization

Cloud computing represents the next revolution in the way that IT services will be delivered to companies large and small. As an IT professional, you must play a key role as your company make this important transition. This is a career-defining opportunity to add real business value through your strategic and tactical understanding of the cloud's relationship with organizational goals.

There are many misconceptions surrounding the cloud and what it has to offer. By becoming more knowledgeable, you can help guide others to a better understanding of the next steps to take to enable your organization to reap the benefits of cloud computing. It can provide much more than savings, creating a foundation for new competitive advantages in your customer and partner relationships.

Microsoft Cloud Services created this page to provide you with the resources you'll need to start your journey to success. You can get started by getting the real facts about the cloud below, or by accessing any of the various resources on the right side of the page. Dig in!.

#1. Job Security

Myth:

If my organization deploys Microsoft Online Services my role as an Exchange Administrator goes away.

Fact:

The role of the Exchange Administrator does not become obsolete due to the cloud. There are still many tasks that remain on-premise. You still have to manage your users and their mailboxes. Industry-specific data retention compliance, as well as implementing custom workflows, is still your responsibility. While some tasks may no longer reside on-premise, managed cloud services free up your time to engage in more strategic roles, providing you with new opportunities.

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#2. IT ROle Changes

Myth:

If my organization uses a Public Cloud service like Windows Azure my role becomes less technical.

Fact:

IT Pros become more essential to their organizations when opting to use public cloud services like Windows Azure. Windows Azure facilitates moving some applications off-premise to the cloud, but apart from patching those servers and physically maintaining them, all other aspects of managing applications remain in the IT Pro's hands. Monitoring, updating, integration with services such as Active Directory, security and network monitoring -- these task are still required within orgaizations utilizing cloud services.

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#3. Job Outlook

Myth:

The IT Pro role goes away with Cloud computing.

Fact:

Organizations may look at the cloud as an opportunity to save on hardware and software costs. However, any potential savings are jeopardized by the elimination of the IT Pro role. There will still be a demand for skills in the security space, network management, integration skills, Active Directory and infrastructure management. The IT Pro role will evolve as the availability of compute cycles and networked storage increase – that is a given, just as the IT role has evolved in the past. The question IT Pros must ask themselves is, am I prepared to play a more strategic role in my organization?

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#4. Data Control

Myth:

My organization will be locked into one vendor and lose control of its data, if it moves to the cloud.

Fact:

The essence of cloud services is flexibility. One application may call another on a different cloud service, and data may be stored anywhere, including within your own network, but still be accessible to cloud applications. No cloud provider offers a service that completely takes away control of your environment. The best cloud solutions will be a combination of on and off-premise services. Whichever cloud provider you choose, the highest priority they must address is the security of your data. You should not choose any vendor that treats your organization's data as its property.

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#5. Integration

Myth:

Integration issues go away when applications are outsourced to the cloud.

Fact:

No. IT teams dedicated to application compatibility and integration play a big role for their organizations, just as they did before the cloud. While some stand-alone applications can be moved independent of other existing systems, many will require integration with on-premise as well as other cloud applications.

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#6. Benefactors of the Cloud

Myth:

Only a small business can gain any cost savings benefit out of using Cloud Computing.

Fact:

The benefits of cloud computing apply equally to all businesses. Many companies are making big bets on the cloud today. Microsoft itself has 40 million users of its Online Services, including large and small organizations. Also, 10,000 corporate customers are using Windows Azure, such as 3M, Siemens and T-Systems.

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#7. Private CLoud

Myth:

My company can get all the benefits of cloud computing with a "private" cloud running on our own hardware.

Fact:

Your company can benefit from a private cloud. The points to remember when talking to business management about a private cloud is that you still own everything: Hardware; Software, and, even; Uptime management accountability. This means you have to manage the infrastructure and the capacity requirements to meet internal SLAs just as you do today. An on-premise private cloud is still a CapEx expense, in contrast to cloud assets operated by a provider like Microsoft. To realize the benefits of a private cloud, the projected savings from the increased utilization of your existing infrastructure must outweigh the incremental cost of building that cloud. An alternative is to opt for a hosted private cloud, in which a hosting provider maintains the hardware; it allows you to cut your capital spending and move it to Opex. A private cloud is exclusive to you, and you bear all the costs of maintaining available compute resources instead of sharing them with others when you aren't using them, but may be cheaper to run than your current systems.

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#8. Cost Saving

Myth:

My company must move all its applications to a cloud service to be able to benefit fully from cloud computing.

Fact:

Currently, moving an entire datacenter to the cloud is nearly impossible. It is also not recommended by any cloud provider. Start by identifying applications in your pipeline that can benefit your organization by being in the cloud. Look for applications where resources are used intensely for a short period each month then left idle for the rest of the time, or applications where a moderate level of resources are used continuously, but experience periods of very high activity. These applications are good cloud candidates, because the cloud can scale up and down resources on demand. The cloud is built for flexible access to resources that can be allocated to other applications, or even other customers, when idle.

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#9. Cloud Types

Myth:

There is only one kind of "cloud."

Fact:

There are many types of cloud. For example, a "customer cloud", is a private cloud hosted on-premise. A "partner cloud" is another variation of the private cloud that is hosted by an outsource partner. Finally, the "public cloud," a loosely connected network of web and application services, is the most discussed variation of cloud computing, yet it involves a level of service that no providers actually deliver on today. What IT Pros must take into account as they consider any cloud service is the availability of standard and familiar protocols and application stacks.

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#10. Getting Started with the Cloud

Myth:

All you need is your credit card to start using cloud computing.

Fact:

You can indeed get started using cloud computing services with just a credit card. This is a good way to get experience with this new frontier of services. Most cloud services provide an environment designed for getting started and developing applications. In most cases the cloud providers offer a Getting Started level of resource for free. Microsoft does, for example. Try Windows Azure

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#11. Virtual Machines  = Cloud Computing?

Myth:

If I'm running applications or network services on virtual machines, I'm already doing cloud computing.

Fact:

Just having VMs doesn't mean you have launched a cloud computing environment. Yes, you are on the road to cloud computing, but are not yet reaping the full benefits. A VM must provide the ability to grow or shrink compute and storage capacity on the fly in order to deliver service comparable to a cloud computing resource. You also need to have the ability to provide pay-as-you-go pricing to the departments in your organization to approach the cost-savings afforded by the cloud's on-demand services.

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#12. Security

Myth:

A cloud provider cannot guarantee security.

Fact:

While this statement is largely true, there is an important caveat. Running an application in the cloud is a joint effort between your organization and its cloud provider. From a physical standpoint, public cloud datacenters are amongst the most secure premises on the planet. Yet, at the logical level, a cloud provider with every security certification still can't guarantee the integrity of specific servers, applications, and networks, if your applications are poorly written, setup and secured. Here's where the IT Pros remain squarely in control and critical to cloud success. All the security practices of a cloud providerare meaningless if a customer organization's security practices are weak.

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#13. Flexibility

Myth:

There are not a lot of Cloud companies for me to consider.

Fact:

There are now hundreds of cloud providers offering a wide range ofservices. The major players in the public cloud market are Microsoft, Google, Salesforce.com, and Amazon. In the private cloud business, the choices include Microsoft, VMWare, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

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