By Guest Blogger Jeff Parker, vice president of information technology, Magnolia Hotels
I am thinking of changing my name, something elusive, mysterious, and misunderstood. In short, I want to be buzz-word compliant.
In looking at many of the hottest technologies out there, it seems to me that they are more about marketing and re-branding then actual new technologies.
Cloud computing is the hottest buzz-word of them all, but I was sitting in front of a Wise green-screen terminal connected via modem to a server 25 years ago. In the 80s distributed computing was cost effective because computing power cost too much for all but the richest companies and schools. Saving money was the driver then, and this is still the reason companies are moving to the cloud.
Computing power and storage are cheap, but often the new processors are more than is needed for a single application or environment, so it is now possible to run multiple virtual environments on a single piece of hardware or span several servers in ways we never dreamed of in days prior to the Apple II.
Cost savings are driving people to centralized computing; the savings are in cooling, electricity, redundancy, and security. Depending on hotel size and complexity of peripheral systems, I have seen five to fifteen servers in a single hotel’s data closet. Now we can put all of those servers on one or two pieces of hardware. Even in small scale this reduces the amount of energy required to keep these systems running. Moving this equipment to a shared datacenter allows hotels (or anyone) to fractionalize the costs of cooling, plus ‘rent’ security and redundancy that are simply not feasible at a single hotel.
Accessing all of your data across multiple entities is also driving the cloud focus, I have seen everything from re-keying data to sneaker-net and complex replication routines run after night audit to move data to one central location. Having all the systems in the cloud means all of the data is in one place.
When the cycle revolved, it was packaged as ASP (application service provider) or ISP (infrastructure service provider); SaaS (Software as a Service) and now Cloud Computing. See how a name change make existing technology feel new and sexy?