Is Cloud Computing the Next Big Thing or just Re-branding?
Madonna, now bear with me on this one. Madonna may not be Cloud Computing or even technology related but she is a good example of rebranding. Initially, we started of with the quirky, youthful and unpredictable Madonna that developed into the sexy Erotic form and then mature into the sophisticated Vogue persona we had a few years back.
Cloud computing may not be a pop diva but it is an evolving entity of base elements that has bits added and taken away and with a name change here and there becomes a new and exiting proposition.
As with all business systems there are standard building blocks required to create the foundations of the service such as; physical location, a platform (servers, SAN, backup), software, connectivity (LAN & WAN), power, AC, etc. These building blocks were traditionally known as a Data Centre or in the new world a Private Cloud Infrastructure, basically the same thing known by a different name (the sexy Erotic Madonna). These services are typically deployed within a customer location or as a more cost effective alternative within a Service Provider DC but the infrastructure is dedicated to a single organisation.
The evolution of the cloud has moved on, as all things do, to Dedicated Shared and Public Cloud-as-a-Service (CaaS). As-a-Service within the Cloud world relates to a self provisioning pay as you go pricing model. The major limitation of these services have been around timely provision of services, SLA’s, management, reporting, billing and auditability. With new front end ordering and backend provisioning systems it is now possible. However, as with all things, the accuracy of provisioning and billing will vary depending on the service or mix of services being requested. i.e. for 30 Virtual Desktop instances will this include processing, storage, backup, applications, WAN bandwidth increase and acceleration services.
The element that can be overlooked when considering CaaS are not technology based but business related. Security, business governance and regulatory restrictions will be a major hurdle to overcome if a business is looking to move from a Private to a Dedicated Shared Cloud. If there is no audit trail of where data is stored and how services are segregated which meet the organisations or industries governance then the cost reduction and flexibility of storage/processing on demand may never be recognised.
So where are we today? There are plenty of public services available for backup, storage, synchronisation and publication such as Dropbox, Flickr, YouTube and various Google offerings which are free and meet home user requirements. Stepping up a level online applications have also been around for a few years addressing home user and small businesses needs such as Google Docs and Microsoft BPOS (inc Office365 which extending the platform from just collaboration tools to business applications).
The next steps, which are currently in their infancy, will see businesses taking advantage of Dedicated Shared Cloud services for some applications including development and data storage as long as the business governance allows. For businesses looking to move fully to a Dedicated Shared Cloud service availability and application performance per user SLAs will be a big consideration but will reduce cost considerably, especially for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments.
So what is my favourite Madonna? I think it must be ‘Ray of Light’ or maybe ‘Music’ as she had reached maturity and just delivers what I was expecting without any surprises.