In making the trans-Atlantic crossing from Europe to North America recently, I was reminded of “the cloud” in a somewhat different way. All flights from northern Europe were being diverted to the “northern route” due to volcanic activity in Iceland. How amazing and unexpected to be flying over Iceland (and Greenland) during the trip. As luck would have it, I was sitting on the left side of the airplane, so had a clear view of the cloud of ash being hurled into the air and sent eastward towards Europe as we flew north of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull (EY-ya-fyat-lah-YO-kut for those that want to impress their friends).
The cloud of ash got me to thinking about the recent Face2Face Progress Forums that I participated in during my visit to Europe, and the conversations we had around cloud computing. I think that it’s safe to say that people are just at the beginning stages of learning about what this new capability is, and perhaps are some time away from embracing how cloud computing can be applied to their own business situation. At the same time, there are pundits who believe that cloud computing is as significant of a technology trend as the move to client-server computing in the 1990’s- a disruptive technology change similar in some ways to the travel disruptions caused by volcanic ash clouds.
So what should OpenEdge users make of cloud computing at the moment? First, it’s probably not a passing fad but something that will become pervasive in the computing industry over time. Second, while it may not be obvious today exactly what the impact of cloud computing will be to your organization, the more you can learn now the better positioned you will be when it does become more obvious.
So practically speaking, what can you do to learn more about cloud computing? There is of course a wealth of information readily available over the internet, including papers available from Progress located on PSDN in Progress Communities (communities.progress.com). In addition, 2 low-risk events are becoming popular: holding training that involves hands-on lab exercises using cloud resources, and using the cloud to support the product demonstration phase of the sales cycle.
For training, rather than pre-configure a set of hardware resources that you own or rent, you can configure an image in the cloud and then on the day of the training you simply start up “n” machines in the cloud that use that image, something that takes just a few minutes. Each student has access to their own personal machine, and the cost to set up and run these resources is surprisingly low. If you are interested in seeing how this works, consider joining the Netherlands PUG (Progress User Group) workshop on GUI for .NET scheduled for June 3- it is free to attend and the labs will all be run out of the cloud.
For product demonstration, your sales team no longer has to maintain demo software on their personal laptops, but instead simply connect to the cloud from the customer location and access the pre-configured image that contains the demo software and related environment. The benefits are many, including improved agility in enhancing your demo and making that quickly available to the entire team.
The next time you ponder the volcanic ash cloud that continues to be in the headlines, or simply the clouds drifting overhead, give some thought as to how you can get started with cloud computing.
Rob is a Senior Manager of OpenEdge Product Management. He has been a member of the Product Management team for 12 years, gathering user requirements and organizing product releases to meet those requirements. His primary technology focus is on the ABL language and IDE, Application Server, integration technologies, application security, mobile technology and Business Process Management (BPM).
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