Agile, cost effective, multi tenancy, device and location independent, reliable,
scalable, secure…Cloud Computing merits these adjectives and many more besides.
Hailed as the latest revolution in IT accessibility, economy and utility, Microsoft
Sri Lanka now offers local users the wonder and benefits of the ‘Cloud’.
Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer said, “The growth of cloud services will also
enhance business productivity in Asia, providing SMBs with online access to software
productivity tools that free of infrastructure costs. In this way, the cloud promises
to increase the agility, speed and ultimately growth of SMBs in Asia. Collectively,
it will enable Asia’s legion of SMBs to experience a step change; enjoying
the benefits of application-based innovation on a usage-based cost model. Microsoft
continues to build out its cloud infrastructure in Asia, based on a collective vision,
technology innovation and a committed partner ecosystem”.
Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka, explains: “Microsoft
is making significant investments in the Cloud as we see this as the next big wave
in computing which will dramatically change how IT is accessed and consumed by businesses
and the market. Microsoft has been in the business of Cloud Computing for over a
decade - with offerings such as Hotmail and more recently with Windows Live and
Live Meeting services, which are essentially examples of Cloud Computing for mass
users. However, we now offer companies in Sri Lanka the opportunity to leverage
on our global expertise in Cloud Computing to realise significant gains for their
Defining Cloud computing
The foundation for Cloud Computing dates back to 1960, when John McCarthy opined
that “computation may someday be organized as a public utility” Wikipedia
describes Cloud computing as “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources,
software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand,
like a public utility” and also quotes a technical definition “a computing
capability that provides an abstraction between the computing resource and its underlying
technical architecture (e.g., servers, storage, networks), enabling convenient,
on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that
can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service
provider interaction.” As per this definition clouds have five essential characteristics:
on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity,
and measured service.
Microsoft’s role in the Cloud
Microsoft has been investing in cloud services as part of its broader strategy for
more than a decade, having run some of the largest cloud services on the planet
for almost 15 years. For example, there are about 370 million active Hotmail accounts,
making it the world’s largest Web-based e-mail service. There are also millions
of paying users of Microsoft Online Services (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online,
Office Live Meeting, Office Communications Online, and Exchange Hosted Services).
Those customers include seven of the top 10 global energy companies, 13 of the top
20 global telecommunication firms, 15 of the top 20 global banks, and 16 of the
top 20 global pharmaceutical companies.
Businesses such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have used Microsoft’s cloud
services to quickly add applications and other tools to help meet changing business
needs. The cloud also has allowed consumers to access their information on a number
of devices and have those devices work on their behalf to create better experiences
with their technology.
Azure has the Answers
Microsoft works with a large partner eco system and its partners have developed
cloud based services and solutions that are available for the market. It offers
services to the market through hosted service provides on a monthly rental model
based on the actual usage. In fact, Microsoft has a large number of partners building
solutions using its cloud computing platform on Windows Azure - a cloud services
operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management
environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with
on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manages web applications on the
internet through Microsoft® data centres.
Azure Services Platform is an application platform in the cloud that allows applications
to be hosted and run at Microsoft data centres. It provides a cloud operating system
called Windows Azure that serves as a runtime for the applications and provides
a set of services that allows development, management and hosting of applications
off-premises. All Azure Services and applications built using them run on top of
Windows Azure has three core components: Compute, Storage and Fabric. As the names
suggest, Compute provides computation environment with Web Role and Worker Role
while Storage focuses on providing scalable storage (Blobs, Tables, Queue) for large
The Microsoft virtualization offering cost savings combined with the System Centre
family of products offer a comprehensive data centre solution to build, operate
and manage cloud services for hosting partners at a lower total cost of ownership
than what the competition can offer today. Microsoft’s Service Provider License
Agreement (SPLA) offers the flexibility required for its hosted partners to offer
Microsoft solutions to customers on a rental model based on the actual usage per
month, making it a much more attractive proposition to acquire Microsoft solutions
for SME markets and large customers who are looking at moving into consuming Software
as a Service.
With Cloud Computing, Microsoft is converging on a common developer platform for
both servers and services, and through this convergence, Microsoft will enable developers
to continue using familiar Microsoft tools and technologies, as well as third-party
tools to create applications that run on the server and as services in the cloud.
Many of the leading corporate in the country have already testified to the superior
after sales support that Microsoft offers and Cloud Computing users can also avail
of the same partnership with Microsoft.
The Sri Lankan take on Cloud Computing
Dr Tariq Marikar, CIO of Suntel said “Cloud computing is a valid proposition
today for many businesses in Sri Lanka. Businesses that wish to immediately inherit
the features and benefits of systems typically found in high end corporate environments
can do so today – under this model - without incurring upfront CAPEX. Centralized,
hosted and secured delivery of these services via the internet is a very mature
model and Suntel has been delivering iDC and VPN services to customers for years
on multi-tenet basis to even the financial services sector. By using a scalable,
secure, multi-tenet platform at iDC, the customer obtains a cheaper, on-demand service
that can drive down their business costs immediately and truly support them in their
Mr. Samath Fernando, Group CIO of Hirdramani Group said “Microsoft has been
providing Cloud Computing services to customers worldwide and after hearing testimonials
from leading companies, we decided to explore this option. We are currently running
a pilot on the technology on Windows Live initiative. We see potential to reduce
costs through Cloud Computing becoming a reality in Sri Lanka and plan to go on
premise & off premises as a strategy so that we could reap the maximum benefits
of technologies, which will enable us to go full, live on the initiative, by the
end of this year.”
Cloud computing has caught the imagination of companies that need to mesh agility
with the adoption of the latest technology, while keeping operating costs to a minimum.
“Sri Lanka has always been a step ahead adopting the latest computing technologies
and Cloud Computing is another avenue to enhance their business practices. Microsoft’s
Cloud Computing solutions are especially useful for large corporates moving to a
more open model and for SMEs who are unwilling to bear expensive enterprise class
software solutions.” says Deepak Setty, Server and Tools, Microsoft APAC.
The Many Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is an ideal tool for companies looking to avoid massive investments
in capital expenditure, especially on hardware and software. Instead, the consumption
is usually billed on a utility basis with little or no upfront cost. Consumption
of Cloud Computing skills is billed on a simple basis, much like we consume electricity,
where billing is for units consumed. Companies also have the option to select a
subscription based system.
Sharing infrastructure leads to low overhead costs, no heavy investments and immediate
access to a broad range of applications. Cloud computing significantly enhances
the user’s ability to upscale or downscale according to technology needs, thus promoting
agility, a vital element for companies looking for first mover advantage. Users
merely need to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or
what device they are using (e.g., PC, mobile). As the infrastructure is provided
by third party and “in the clouds”, so to speak, users can log in from
Cloud Computing offers massive potential and scope and local companies have shown
a marked interest in its limitless possibilities and the advantages their businesses
stand to gain.