Posted by: psilva | August 4, 2009

Remember when we drew big Clouds on whiteboards…


…with the Ace Frehley lighting bolts flying out?  We still draw those clouds but now they are smaller, there are more of them and sometimes hover over a single, private entity.  Well, the Clouds have accumulated and an umbrella isn’t going to help.

Nicholas Carr (author of Does IT Matter and The Big Switch) talks about the notion of the Internet (or Computing power) as a Utility and has compared the cloud transition to the birth of power utilities from the 19th to 20th centuries. Back then, manufactures had to provide their own energy source and many used huge water wagon wheels to generate power. In fact, the top manufacturer at the time had built the world’s largest waterwheel and had a competitive advantage.  Soon, things changed when Westinghouse came on the scene in 1886 and pioneered long-distance power transmission.  As soon as these self-generating sources could now ‘plug-in’ inexpensively, all assumptions changed. The assumption was that this (power) was something you had to buy/build and maintain yourself.  Carr feels Information Technology is next and going thru a similar transformation due to the collapse of efficiency. He notes that, Server Capacity has 80% waste, Storage has 60% waste. and upkeep/maintenance has around a 70% waste. Clouds give the ability to share assets and move to a new level of efficiency, if done right. While the notion of Utility Computing is new; disruptive technologies can move quickly, especially if it’s working well.  There is, of course, alternative views to this idea offered in this article.  It’s an interesting read on the difference between pushing/sharing electrons VS. data along with the ‘trust’ factor.  I don’t think James Urquhart is necessarily disagreeing with Carr but being more specific as to what Computing as a Utility would look like and he correctly points out that, “some have taken electricity as an analogy to cloud adoption to an extreme…” I tend to agree since an industry blessed definition of cloud computing is still evolving & Nick wrote his book over a year and a half ago when ‘Cloud’ was still a nebulous term.  Even today we’re starting to parse parts – Platform, Software and Infrastructure – all as a Service and many are jumping in.

cloud According to IDC, CIO’s choose Cloud services primarily for Ease, Fast Deployment and Lower payments. They avoid Clouds due to Security concerns, Dependability (availability/performance) and Control. Security (or Trust) is usually at the top of surveys (for good reason) but there’s also a sense of not wanted to give up control of specific applications, particularly ones that are tied to certain regulatory governance. The growth anticipated over the next couple years will be in IT Management Apps and Collaborative applications which makes sense.  Cloud is about sharing and collaborative apps are making their way to the cloud, plus IT must have a way to manage all those instances.  The goal, of course, is to Consolidate (reduce costs/improve quality), Virtualize (simplify access/improve end-to-end management) and Automate (speed/predictability & reduce labor) IT into service orientated delivery.

Clouds are not going to replace the old IT model but become another choice for sourcing to IT departments. There will be a mix of on-premise and off/cloud delivery, depending on the application (and several other factors) but performance level assurances (SLA) are very important to the buyer.  Also attributed to ISC, Cloud spending looks modest from 4% of overall IT spending to 9% in 2012 but will account for $42.3 billion with business applications taking 52% of that.

ps

Number 3 out of 26 Short Stories About Security

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