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Can Cloud Computing Open Up New Opportunities?

An exclusive Q&A with Alex Mei, Executive Vice President and CMO of OCZ Technology Group

"There is a common view among media and analysts that the cloud computing market will see rapid growth in the foreseeable future," observed Alex Mei, Executive VP and CMO of OCZ Technology Group, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "Companies will need to adapt quickly to these fast changing conditions as cloud computing continues to mature to meet the demands of IT and ultimately end users," Mei concluded.

Cloud Computing Journal: Agree or disagree? - "While the IT savings aspect is compelling, the strongest benefit of cloud computing is how it enhances business agility."

Alex Mei: Agree. While driving down the costs associated with IT is certainly an important factor of cloud computing, the ability to create new ways for users to interact and access their data over the cloud is changing the very way that businesses can operate. The fact that cloud computing allows companies to scale their businesses at the rate they choose provides more "agility" than heavy investments in traditional large-scale infrastructure. Ultimately cloud computing can open up entirely new opportunities that can accelerate businesses or help facilitate more efficient delivery of services.

Cloud Computing Journal: Which of the recent big acquisitions within the Cloud and/or Big Data space have most grabbed your attention as a sign of things to come?

Mei: There have been numerous acquisitions bringing together advanced storage hardware designed to address Big Data and enterprise storage acceleration software, like our own OCZ-SANRAD VXL enterprise storage accelerator, which is designed to improve asset utilization and increase flexibility through virtualization. The merging of both solid state storage and software to form a total solution to optimize the server is a major trend. Enterprises and SMEs looking to manage data and the cloud more efficiently are deploying server virtualization to save power, cooling, and management costs. However, server virtualization by itself is only the tip of the iceberg. To realize the full benefits from a virtual infrastructure, companies must also implement the other critical component to the total solution: storage virtualization. More and more companies will move to solid state drives to eliminate the bandwidth bottlenecks that once existed, and storage virtualization that leverages ultra low latency flash-based storage extends the benefits of server virtualization by providing simplified storage management, improved storage utilization, and better overall application performance.

Cloud Computing Journal: In its recent "Sizing the Cloud" report Forrester Research said it expects the global cloud computing market to reach $241BN in 2020 compared to $40.7BN in 2010 - is that kind of rapid growth trajectory being reflected in your own company or in your view is the Forrester number a tad over-optimistic?

Mei: There is a common view among media and analysts that the cloud computing market will see rapid growth in the foreseeable future. Companies will need to adapt quickly to these fast changing conditions as cloud computing continues to mature to meet the demands of IT and ultimately end users. Everything from usage patterns to the actual applications that users will desire from the cloud are becoming more and more extensive, so those companies that can adapt quickly will be the most successful. While there are opportunities in many key areas it is likely that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) will fuel a lot of the immediate growth.

Cloud Computing Journal: Which do you think is the most important cloud computing standard still to tackle?

Mei: Cloud computing development is moving at a very rapid pace and we really need to find a balance in terms of implementing new standards that make it easier for everyone to benefit from wider cloud adoption while making sure not to stifle innovation. Because cloud computing is a constant evolution of so many technologies, many organizations have already built up their own framework and it may be hard to standardize. One of the most important cloud computing standards to tackle is to find ways to make the cloud more interoperable, with unrestricting standards, so that more users can benefit from the advances of this resource.

Cloud Computing Journal: Big Data has existed since the early days of computing; why, then, do you think there is such an industry buzz around it right now?

Mei: Big Data has existed for a long time, but I would argue that the need to manage and process Big Data has only accelerated in today's modern computing environment. Each day whether it is through scientific or communications applications to video sharing and social media, users are creating massive amounts of data, accelerating the need to manage this ever-growing amount of information. The entire industry is facing the challenge of not just dealing with the large volume of data, but learning how to actually process it in the enterprise. If companies are unable to process and analyze the data in a timely fashion, businesses not only lose efficiency, but Big Data itself begins to lose its value.

Cloud Computing Journal: Do you think Big Data will only ever be used for analytical purposes, or do you envisage that it will actually enable new products?

Mei: Big Data comes in many varieties and is so much more than just structured data; it can include unstructured data like video, audio, and click streams, and because of this variety we envision businesses innovating and creating new ways to not just analyze this data, but harness it to create opportunities for new products and services. Up until now it has been extremely difficult to harvest this variety of mass data, but with advances in supercomputing, virtualization, and solid state storage technology, it's now feasible to process and manage Big Data in a way that creates new possibilities that didn't exist before.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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