Thursday, November 13, 2008

In support of James’ Cloud

Clouds rear to crashImage by Simon Cast via FlickrJames Governor recently did a re-run of his 15 Ways to Tell Its Not Cloud Computing with a post addressing some of the critical reaction he has got in a post 15 Ways I Am Wrong About Enterprise Cloud Computing. I broadly support James’ original thesis and I’ll explain why.

Definitions of Cloud Computing abound and some are really wordy and well confusing. When I think of Cloud Computing I keep it to the following definition:

“Cloud Computing abstracts the where and how of computing to allow users to focus on the what”

By this I mean that developers no longer need to worry about the details of how computing is delivered or where the computing is located (i.e. what server) instead they can focus on making sure their application achieves what they want and is reliable.

So a Cloud is more than simply a grid or utility computing as it also needs to support software stacks without the developer worrying about how it is done. A full on cloud negates many of the low level management requirements and simply provides computing and storage resource that is on-demand and easy to use, like booting an OS and running an application.

Now what we will have is internal and external clouds to an enterprise. Think Internet versus Intranet. The reason for deploying an internal cloud is to reduce the hardware capital inefficiency most enterprises face along with providing internal developers access to the benefits of Cloud Computing will still meeting the desire for security and control of data and applications.

Companies like Sun, IBM and HP will rollout “cloud-in-a-box” that allow Enterprises to replace existing hardware with Clouds. Will the enterprise own each server that makes up the “cloud-in-a-box”? Probably not. Instead they will own the “cloud” with a maintenance contract that sees the vendor swap out the hardware regularly to keep the computing capability of the cloud growing.

The reason for enterprises to deploy internal clouds is simple – it increases capital efficiency of IT while allowing developers and system administrators to focus on the application and less on keeping a mass of hardware and low-level software running and up-to-date. External clouds will work for many businesses that don’t need massive internal applications. It isn’t a really an either/or proposition.

James notes at the end of his reply they he is half-right and half wrong. I agree with the caveat that I think he is more than half-right and less than half-wrong. Until enterprises can tick off his 15 points they will not be taking full advantage of the potential of Cloud Computing.

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