Cloud computing ‘core’ to IT industry’s future
Most organisations in Malta already appreciate the technological benefits of cloud services and realise that the movement is about much more than the cloud, according to Valentinos Georgiades from Microsoft Malta.
Speaking to i-Tech following the launch of Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud services platform, Mr Georgiades explained the phenomenon of cloud computing and its impact on Malta.
Recent IDC cloud research shows that worldwide revenue from public IT cloud services exceeded $21.5 billion in 2010 and will reach $72.9 billion in 2015, representing a compound annual growth rate of 27.6 per cent. This rapid growth rate is over four times the projected growth for the worldwide IT market as a whole (6.7 per cent).
“Malta will also follow the same cloud adoption trends,” he said. “Cloud cannot be sufficiently understood as a standalone phenomenon in the IT market, but rather as a core ingredient of a larger transformation of the IT industry – and many other industries using IT to transform themselves. Other ingredients enabled by cloud – and, in turn, accelerating cloud adoption – include the expanding ‘species’ of mobile devices, the explosion of mobile apps, the growing availability of wireless broadband, and the explosion of big data tools. That’s why cloud computing is being adopted by organisations: as an enabler to not only do current things faster, better and cheaper but also to innovate in order to compete and operate not merely on a local, but also on a global scale.”
Windows Azure (www.windowsazure.com) is an internet-scale cloud computing and services platform hosted in Microsoft data centres, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services which can be used individually or together.
It gives developers the choice to build web applications; applications running on connected devices, PCs, or servers; or hybrid solutions offering the best of both worlds. In other words, Windows Azure is a platform on top of which developers can develop their solutions.
The new Windows Azure services include infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capabilities, including Windows Azure virtual machines for Windows and Linux-based applications, as well as the Windows Azure virtual network to securely link Windows Azure with on-premises networks, Windows Azure web sites which enable developers to quickly and easily deploy web sites with support for multiple frameworks and popular open source applications and an integrated Windows Azure preview portal.
Microsoft offers all developers a free Windows Azure 90-day trial. Additionally Microsoft offers a number of programs and offers which are also applicable to Maltese organisations.
The BizSpark program offers start-up companies the use of Microsoft software for free (including the use of Windows Azure). Microsoft offers the use of Windows Azure for free to Microsoft Partner Network, MSDN and WebsiteSpark members. Through such programs and offers Microsoft aims to unleash the organisations’ and developers’ creativity to develop cloud applications.
“Windows Azure launched in Malta a few weeks ago and a number of local organisations have already deployed this solution,” Mr Georgiades added. “By moving their products to Windows Azure, Maltese organisations are able to focus on what they do best: developing and delivering world-class products. Their costs will be reduced and they can pass that cost reduction to their customers, approaching that way a bigger portion of the market, which they previously couldn’t approach.
“The value of Windows Azure is even greater for startup companies, which until now had a great idea but didn’t want to invest a great amount of money in servers and hardware to build their data centre to establish their solutions. They can now benefit from the ‘pay as you go and pay for what you use’ model and scale up as they go and as demand for their solution increases.”
Last year Microsoft Malta announced the establishment of the local Microsoft Innovation Centre in Malta, which will be the first Microsoft centre on cloud computing in the world. Among other activities, this centre is expected to run workshops and training to help local software developers develop cloud solutions on Windows Azure.