On Friday the 22nd, Dublin City University hosted by Techspectations ‘Get Digital 2010’. The days was filled with speakers, demonstrations and workshops, it was extremely interesting and fly by. One of the parts that interested me the most was the Cloud Computing workshop so here’s a little bit of it.

They say that Cloud Computing (CC) is the future but I after listening to Fiachra O’Corey and Cormac Keogh. From what I can tell CC is here now, it’s not the future but rather the present. Ironically I have being using CC for the last year and not even know it, I have being sharing documents on Google docs, they are living documents that get updated by me or my colleagues, we can access them anywhere a internet connection is and they don’t reside on any of our PC’s but on some big Server that Google owns.

Cormac Keogh is from Microsoft, he spoke about Micro soft Azure which is Microsoft platform for hosting CC. He did say that hosting wasn’t a good description of what Azure does but for now it will do for now. It you avail of a few options (services) with Azure. You can use it for infrastructure, it can hold your Virtual Machine (VM) with all your application on it but you still need to do maintenance on your applications, like when a new security patch is needed or an application bundle. You really need to be an IT pro if you want to use this service. You can also use it as a platform so that VM could be on just one computer or a hundred and the Microsoft bod would take care of the patching and maintenance. The last service mentioned was if you just wanted Azure to hold your software application, something like a website like Ebay or Amazon.

So why let another company like Microsoft service your software and applications. Well the first benefit that comes to mind is you don’t have to deal with buying servers and if they provide the system administrators so you don’t have to hire one and worry about 24/365 cover., let it be their headache now yours. If your business is manufacturing clothes, do you really want an IT department, maybe you do but if you don’t there’s now another option. As for the cost, well right now Azure is really for medium to large size business but that could change in the future.

Fiachra O’Corey is from Salesforce.com, I had heard about the company before but thought they just sold Customer Relations Managements (CRM) products. They have a cloud computing platform called Force.com. They really have made it easy to use and so if you forced me to choose between Azure of Force I would opt for Force. An incident that impressed me was that Fiachra’s web connection didn’t work on his laptop, ‘no problem’ he said as we can access Salesfoce from any computer that has web access. He logged onto another PC , carried on his presentation and was able to show us all the functionality and easy Salesfoce.com is too use on a PC he had never used. So no more need for preinstalled software on your PC or laptop, all you need is a web connection. Dell use salesforce.com now globally so if a large comp

Two Irish businesses also spoke to is, they use CC to their advance and are able to expand their business more easily.
John Dennehy the Managing director of HR locker explained issues in accessing their application in China due to local firewall protocols. HR locker within a day was able to move the application from Cork to Hong Kong with zero hassle thus avoiding the Chinese firewall issues. If HR Locker had built their application without CC, than they would have had to hire servers, a place to keep them, a system admin in a city half way around the world, can you imagine the hassle involved?
The other Irish company that spoke was Staff Balance. Ciaran McGowan the CEO of Staff Balance. They have created a tool that can track business performance and operational efficiencies.

Here are some handy websites