This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.
Stories by Bernard Golden
Everyone's had the experience of discussing a concept with someone and suddenly seeing the look of understanding appear on their face as the meaning of the concept sinks in. I engage in a lot of conversations with IT managers about cloud computing, and have encountered many interesting reactions.
I was interested in this week's ZDNet piece, Cloud computing's real creative destruction may be the IT workforce. The piece discusses a presentation at last week's Gartner Symposium that posited cloud computing will be a net destructor of IT jobs.
This week I was invited to attend a gathering at Collabworks, an organization focused on the virtual enterprise. Collabworks believes that the kinds of savings and efficiencies that virtualization has brought to IT can be brought to entire companies by reorganizing workplaces along the lines of what has happened in IT (virtualization to remove dependencies, focus on service outputs rather than processes, and use of specialized external resources rather than internal employees). As IT only accounts for around three percent of total corporate costs, if Collabworks' theory is right, there's clearly great opportunity for enterprises.
If you've read this blog for a while, it's no secret that I believe that one aspect of cloud computing is a dramatic drop in the cost of computing. While many discuss cloud computing's cost advantage in terms of better utilization via resource pooling and rapid elasticity, we believe that there is a more fundamental shift going on as data centers are redesigned to focus on scale, efficiency, and a shift to commodity components.
Cloud computing discussions invariably begin with the "IPS" taxonomy: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service. This taxonomy has the virtue of being comprehensible and neatly partitioning assessment requirements:
In discussions about cloud computing and in comments readers leave on my blog posts, I commonly get statements along the lines of "Yeah, this cloud computing stuff sounds great, but at the end of the day, you have to have an IT guy solving problems like they've always done." In personal interactions, I often hear this sentiment portrayed as, "Public cloud computing is fine for the SMB and startup market, but enterprises aren't ready to move to that model." The tone of much of this feedback is that anyone who advocates cloud computing is at best naive or at worst incapable of understanding the real details of IT.
IT is in a time of disruptive transition, caused by the rise of cloud computing. CIOs are in the midst of a maelstrom, and -- like Ulysses, the fabled hero from Homer's Odyssey -- are torn between the Scylla of established IT practices and the Charybdis of the future, both of which loom dangerously and portend trouble. Also like Ulysses, many CIOs must inure themselves to the din of tempting Sirens: the vendors who sing a sweet song of painless cloud transformation, made possible by the purchase of some software, or hardware, or a set of cloud services.
One of the topics most associated with cloud computing is its cost advantages, or lack thereof. One way the topic gets discussed is "capex vs. opex," a simple formulation, but one fraught with meaning.
I had the opportunity to participate in two conferences over the past couple of weeks, and got what are essentially headlines ripped from today's newspapers about the state of cloud computing in the real world as well as a figurative text message from the future of cloud computing.
Last week's blog post, Cloud CIO: Yes, Your Job is at Risk, was one of the most widely-read-and definitely the most -post I've ever written for CIO.com. Clearly, the discussion of cloud computing's effect on a CIO's career struck a nerve with readers.
Left unsaid--typically, anyway--in most discussions about cloud computing is the implicit threat that it will be the cause of job losses. The clamorous suspicion that many IT groups display toward public cloud services seems to have a large emotional component to it, and highly-charged negative emotions typically reflect visceral fear. It's difficult to conclude that some (if not much) of the resistance from internal IT groups to the use of public cloud resources boils down to simple worry about unemployment.
I came across an article in InfoWorld about a survey that TheInfoPro conducted among Fortune 1000 firms regarding their use of public cloud storage offerings. The bottom line: they haven't, they aren't, and they won't. 87 per cent of respondents stated they have no plans to use public storage-as-a-service, while only 10 per cent say that they will. Clearly, the survey indicates this market segment has no use for cloud storage.
In his book "Predictably Irrational," Dan Ariely cites a study conducted at an upscale Menlo Park grocery store (speaking of which, how irrational is it that the Kindle version of this book costs $9.99, while the paperback version costs only $9.29 ... but I digress). The two professors published a paper based on the outcome of the study. Its title: Choice is Demotivating.
The spread of enthusiasm for cloud computing seems unstoppable. Cloud computing -- a term that was unknown prior to 2007 -- has been named by Gartner as the number one priority for CIOs in 2011. One cannot recall a technology development that has gone from unheard-of to a key role in IT plans so quickly. So why has this unprecedented fervent cloud furor come to pass?