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Retailers Turn Cloud Computing into Sales

Cloud News Round-Up

It turns out cloud computing could be the most useful sales associate on the floor, and you won't have to worry about it stealing sales leads, ala "Glengarry Glen Ross."

With the help of cloud computing, some brick-and-mortar stores are combating showrooming, a trend where consumers look at items in a store before buying them online, usually at lower prices, according to an article on Wired.com.

Clouds offer retailers a way to explore the potential of Big Data analytics to understand their customers better. In order to compete with e-tailers, retailers are tapping social networks to learn what customers are saying about them and about their competitors. Weather data is being used to influence product-purchasing decisions, and merchandise promotions are organized around social events.

In many cases, brick-and-mortar retailers are even finding new data sources. Some companies are tracking the movement of customers within stores and analyzing how many stop at displays to improve the effectiveness of merchandising. Others are considering installing license-plate cameras in parking lots to find out which customer is about to walk into the store.

Cloud computing involves a new way of thinking about data. In a cloud, a single server can host many virtual servers, slashing hardware costs. The virtual servers can scale on-demand depending on the need for computer capacity. That's very useful for retailers, whose businesses are notoriously seasonal. Automatically expanding capacity on Black Friday, for example, can reduce lines at checkout counters and ensure quick service.

U.S. Nuclear Agency Enhances Cybersecurity With Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is being utilized by the U.S. government to provide greater security of data and lower the cost of running the nation's nuclear program.

The U.S. agency responsible for the management and security of the nation's nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation and naval nuclear reactor programs is racing to put unclassified data on the cloud, according to an article on AFCEA.org.

Cloud computing is expected to provide a wide range of benefits, including greater cybersecurity, lower costs and anytime, anywhere networking.

Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an agency within the Department of Energy, expect to have a cloud computing capability this year. The solution, known as Yourcloud, will provide the NNSA with its own cloud computing environment to manage data more securely, efficiently and effectively. It is part of an overall effort to modernize the agency's information infrastructure. Yourcloud replaces an aging infrastructure that resulted in too many data centers and an inability to refresh equipment as often as necessary.

"We'll be using a commercial data center space with a managed cloud provider as well as a managed security provider to offer us fee as a service back to our customer base," says Travis Howerton, NNSA chief technology officer. "What we really have to do is figure out how to insource security and outsource computing, to keep the keys of the kingdom inside, to protect the crown jewels, to make sure we own the security of our data, but then to take advantage of low-cost computing wherever it may be. We are evolving to that model."

More than Half of U.S. Businesses Now Use Cloud Computing
As far as buzzwords go "cloud computing" has transitioned from a novelty to a term that is now a solid component of the IT lexicon, according to an article on Forbes.com.

If you've attended a technology conference over the last couple years it's hard to avoid the buzz around cloud computing. Almost every vendor has applied the term to anything and everything imaginable. There has been some debate over the level of adoption outside of the startup scene, specifically within the larger "enterprise class" of companies. We're now at a point where most "new software" created is created with the Internet as a central tenant. It's how modern software is developed, deployed and consumed. Yes. The cloud has gone mainstream.

New research sponsored by enterprise focused cloud computing firm, Virtustream, sheds new light on the adoption of cloud computing. The report findings indicate that the majority of U.S. businesses are now using some form of cloud computing for IT. The report notes that increasingly most of these businesses use multiple cloud providers leading to potential problems with interoperability and, so called, "Cloud Sprawl."

According to the report's author Paul Burns, president of Neovise, "Enterprise IT organizations - and other organizations with a wide variety of applications - are using multiple types of IaaS clouds at the same time in order to meet their broad needs. Public clouds from the likes of Amazon, Google and Rackspace simply are not enough to satisfy all the computing needs of enterprise IT organizations. This has led to a relatively new form of IT sprawl: cloud sprawl."

More Stories By Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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