Monday, 26 July 2010

The ' “False cloud” is false ' is true!

I have heard Cloud service providers often say that “unless it runs in their data center it isn’t Cloud”. While this view is certainly a possible viewpoint, is it necessarily valid? It certainly does not echo the experience of some of the customers that we have worked with who have built their own private cloud infrastructure across financial services, telco and government verticals. Some of these customers brought the promise of Cloud computing – ready access to resources through self-service, ability to add resources as demands increase and to get charged for usage – into their own data centers years before the term “Cloud Computing” was ever coined! Credit Suisse, for example, with their Java Application Platform, have delivered some outstanding results: double digit percentage reductions in project costs and operational costs. Even if you choose to ignore these real results, some customers correctly observe that for data security or privacy reasons, they would not consider using an external provider. What would you think if your bank told you that their banking system ran “in the Cloud”?

Hence, it was with interest that I read a blog post Jonathan Eunice titled “The ‘false cloud’ is false”. In his blog post, Jonathan talks about the fact that Cloud should be identified by the benefits that it offers. Clearly if you go by the NIST national definition of Cloud computing there is no mention of where the services actually are provided out of. Instead the definition focuses on the characteristics of cloud services. Jonathan makes a valid point in saying “if cloud computing is going to mean something practical, important, and central to enterprise IT over the next few years, cloud must be broad enough to include privately-owned and operated infrastructure”. In his summary, he says “in the end, if cloud purists want to insist that only external clouds qualify, that's their right. But as cloud rapidly mainstreams, enterprises will demand that their concerns and approaches be taken seriously. For enterprises, cloud defined by its benefits is the true cloud.”

Which is really the point: Cloud should be measured by the benefits that it aims to, and ends up, delivering and not how these benefits are delivered. The “how “ is of interest to the providers who provide the services – whether internal or external.

Probably of most consideration is this: that internal IT now has a competitor and must show its value to business. As one of my colleague says “ Cloud is to internal IT what E-commerce was to bricks and mortar retailers” – ie. a wake up call.

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