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Cloud Nine, Are We There Yet?

Research Track




In 1961 at the MIT Centennial, John McCarthy opined “if computers of the kind I have advocated become the computers of the future, then computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility…. the computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry” [1]. In 2006, Amazon Web Services was launched providing computing on a utility basis. Since that time the notion of cloud computing has been emerging and evolving.

Cloud computing is a paradigm that makes the notion of utility computing a reality. Instead of Information Technology (IT) organizations investing in all of the hardware, software and infrastructure necessary to meet their business needs, cloud computing makes access to hardware, software and infrastructure available through the internet, generally utilizing a pay for use model. Basically cloud computing allows an organization to adopt a different economic model for meeting IT needs by reducing capital investments and increasing operational investments, a model which is likely to offer cost savings to many organizations.

There is still a great deal of hype around cloud computing, with their marketing engines further into the clouds then their technology supports. Despite this Gartner predicts that by 2012 one in five businesses will not own its own IT assets. [2]. There are certainly many reasons why an organization would consider moving at least some of their IT functions into the cloud. In addition to potential cost savings the cloud offers the possibility of increased availability, easier collaboration, lower capital costs, scalability and virtualization. There are of course concerns as well. The technology is still relatively immature with no definitive set of standards for interface or compliance with regulations. Businesses lose hands on control of their IT resources with little recourse if their IT vendor shuts down or goes out of business. Additionally, there are security and data privacy concerns. There is also the fact that not all ventures into the cloud will be cost effective for the business.

This paper introduces the concept of cloud computing and discusses the potential benefits for a business as well as those things which could be barriers to adoption. It examines the types of applications where cloud computing is an efficient cost effective solution and the types of applications where its use could be problematic or costly. Cost benefit for several IT scenarios will be presented and discussed. Estimators will gain an understanding of what cloud computing is and what to consider when determining the cost and feasibility of transitioning to the cloud.


Arlene Minkiewicz
PRICE Systems
Ms Minkiewicz is the Chief Scientist at PRICE Systems, LLC. In this role, she leads the cost research activity for the entire suite of cost estimating products that PRICE provides. Ms. Minkiewicz has more than 26 years of experience with PRICE building cost models. Her recent accomplishments include the development of cost estimating models for complex systems and systems of systems as well as research focused on the costs and benefits associated with migration to Service Oriented Architectures (SOA)
Ms Minkiewicz has an MS in Computer Science from Drexel University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University. She has published many articles on software measurement and estimation. She frequently presents at industry conferences on many topics associated with hardware, software and systems estimation. She is a member of the International Society of Parametric Analysts (ISPA) and IEEE and has served on committees setting standards and best practices for estimation, measurement, and benchmarking with SEI, PMI and CAM-I.