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A How-To Guide To Cloud Computing

Getting started in cloud computing is easy. But companies struggle with the details, from management and networking to data protection and contracts.

This article, the fourth in a four-part series, is one element of a multimedia package on business innovation.
For links to related stories and additional editorial content, go to businessinnovation.cmp.com
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The beauty of cloud computing is that little more than a user ID and a credit card will get you started. That's the problem, too. Anything this easy is bound to create problems for IT departments that aren't prepared.

We've experienced this phenomenon many times before, where a technology's ease of adoption translates into unforeseen management challenges. Virtualization resulted in virtual machine sprawl; smartphones ushered in new security risks; instant messaging raised corporate governance concerns.

InformationWeek Reports

The purpose of this report is to show IT managers how to maximize the benefits of cloud computing--including ease of use, flexibility, and lower costs--while minimizing the risks. It's a how-to guide to licensing, management tools, bandwidth, security, and architecture.

This report shows we're still in the early stages of cloud computing, which means the tools and techniques are still evolving. After two years of testing, for example, Amazon Web Services' Elastic Compute Cloud service became generally available just a few weeks ago, and enterprise capabilities such as monitoring, management, and load balancing are still on the road map. Likewise, Google's App Engine is in preview mode. Microsoft's Azure cloud services are in preview, too, available only with limited functionality to Windows developers, not other early adopters.

Yet the time to begin planning is now, both as a way of gaining hands-on experience with this new IT delivery model--including the glitches and gotchas--and of getting ahead of people inside your company who might be contemplating tapping cloud services on their own. Here's how to get started.

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