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Business Professors Take on a Key Technology: Cloud Computing

What is "cloud computing"? How can it help a business manage its growth?

In their new book, Cloud Computing Service and Deployment Models: Layers and Management, two professors from the Merrick School of Business present a cohesive, highly effective way for businesses large and small to find the answers. Co-authors Alberto M. Bento and Anil K. Aggarwal, both professors of information systems in the school's Department of Information Systems and Decision Science, have gathered experts from several disciplines to consider how business can best manage and take advantage of the opportunities stemming from this unprecedented growth in information resources. The relatively straightforward solution to the problem, they say, is cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a term that has had its time in the spotlight, as so many ideas and concepts in the world of technology do. But it remains an approach beyond the grasp of many ordinary users of computers and the Internet. The earlier applications allowed data—whether they're for music, documents, spreadsheets, photos, even the dreaded cat video—to be stored elsewhere, in a secured, dedicated environment. While somebody else maintains this information, the user is free to move from laptop to mobile device to tablet to virtually anything else that can "see" the Internet, and pull down the needed data from the cloud at will. The user is only a login and password away from accessing what he or she needs, and his or her computer hardware and network can work fast and efficiently without all of that "baggage" stored locally.

Cloud computing for business users goes beyond data migration: it means moving all or part of a business's information technology applications, infrastructure, security and service to the cloud. This allows increased agility and flexibility to deploy a new product or service in a shorter time without fixed capital expenditures. Volumes can be adjusted up or down following the business trend and demand, with simple commands to a provider. At the same time, applications that represent competitive advantages can be kept in a private cloud, in-house, to guarantee extra security and confidentiality. There are different services and deployment models to fit specific business needs to choose from.

Aggarwal and Bento say that organizations are realizing that they no longer have to invest in in-house information and communication technologies. Instead, they can migrate their operations to the cloud and pay only for what they use—similar to a businesses using electricity, gas or another utility.

The book explores the impact of a business engaging in either a partial or total migration of its computing needs to the cloud. Any migration creates many issues, the authors say, including security, compatibility and economics.

This is where Bento and Aggarwal's book reveals its real utility: It treats cloud computing as an economic issue, meaning that businesses can learn how to incorporate cloud computing into their work in change management, security, processes, transactions, etc. Instead of being tied to the understandable belief that business growth means more hardware and software to maintain, they say, here's how that growth can focus on the business products—what it means, what the customers are saying, and, most importantly, how cloud migration can drive more growth, more success.

"Moving to the cloud with its increased elasticity, scalability, speed, offers a solution," writes Richard O. Mason, the Carr P. Collins Professor of Management Information Sciences at Southern Methodist University, in his foreword to the book.

Learn more about Aggarwal, Bento, and the Merrick School of Business at UB.

Learn more about Cloud Computing Service and Deployment Models.

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