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Cloud Computing – The Stormy Side/The Upside

Top concerns for most companies are Security, Availability, Integration and Customization

Provided below are two quotes, one from Larry Ellison of Oracle and one from Andy Isherwood of HP (both from 2008 so maybe their perspectives have changed).  Not everyone, even those that would be serving this new Cloud Computing environment, are convinced that Cloud Computing is a new and improved way to do business.  In fact, these two are claiming that they are already doing it.  Luckily for us, not everyone is of the same mindset as these two but clients do have concerns and in some instances, rightly so.

“The interesting thing about Cloud Computing is that we’ve redefined Cloud Computing to include everything that we already do. . . . I don’t understand what we would do differently in the light of Cloud Computing other than change the wording of some of our ads.”

Larry Ellison, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2008

“A lot of people are jumping on the [cloud] bandwagon, but I have not heard two people say the same thing about it. There are multiple definitions out there of “the cloud.”

Andy Isherwood, VP at HP quoted in ZDnet News, December 11, 2008

Like with any “new” paradigm or shift in power from one environment to another, you are going to have concerns.  Customers are no different.  As a matter of fact, their concerns are even more heightened since they are turning over their environments and infrastructures to companies many of them will never even visit.  It is one thing to rely on your local power company for power, and even if they fail, you have mechanisms like UPS systems to augment power until they get back on line.  When you are turning over your entire environment to a third party provider, you are at the mercy of that provider.

So the top concerns for most companies are Security, Availability, Integration and Customization.  Valid concerns, and a great opportunity for providers to offer services and products to ease their stress.

Gartner is also stressing to clients that they need to evaluate providers and service providers to ensure that their decisions to move to a Cloud Computing environment is the right one for them and their shareholders.

“Organizations potentially can gain a competitive or cost advantage through selective adoption of cloud computing, but not without first taking a comprehensive look at the associated risks, ensuring that they are consistent with business goals, along with the expectations of regulators, auditors, shareholders and partners.“

– Gartner, Assessing the Security Risks of Cloud Computing Jay Heiser, Mark Nicolett, 3 June 2008.

Clients are not blind to these issues and you can see by this chart that their concerns map exactly to what we have been discussing as concerns with Cloud Computing.  Here is some data provided by IDC where they held an Enterprise Panel.

it_cloud_services_challenges

Even though clients themselves are concerned with Security, Availability and Integration, they are still making  significant plans to invest in Cloud Computing.  This chart below shows that today, and over the next three years, customers will be moving to Cloud Services.  If you take a closer look at this chart you will see that IT Management Apps, Collaborative Apps and Business Apps have and will continue to have strong growth in spending over the foreseeable future.

it_cloud_services_adoption1

“Cloud computing moves from “unheard-of” to “must-do” much faster for IT professionals than I’ve seen with previous platform shifts.”  Bernard Golden, CEO  HyperStratus

The data from Forrester Research below shows what types of Cloud Computing environments clients are leaning towards.  For example one quarter of the respondents stated that they plan to spend or are spending on IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).  It appears that the lure of savings and efficiency is more attractive then the issues raised earlier.

Forrester Findings

•Of the enterprises responding to the Forrester survey, about one quarter of enterprises plan to spend or are spending on IaaS via an external service provider •Firms are slightly less interested in internal clouds than in external IaaS

•Firms are interested in an internal cloud or an external cloud but not both

•Larger firms are more interested than smaller firms in leveraging external IaaS capability

•Interest in production app placement in external clouds is nearly as high as for test/dev

The fact that companies are also moving straight to production application deployment onto external clouds as quickly as they are with test/dev applications is also an indicator that companies get it.  Cloud Computing is not only a cost savings avenue but it is also safe in their opinion.

Outages in AWS, AppEngine, and Gmail

Service and Outage                                                                                                     Duration          Date

S3 outage: authentication service overload leading to unavailability                         2 hours   2/15/08

S3 outage: Single bit error leading to gossip protocol blowup.                              6-8 hours   7/20/08

AppEngine partial outage: programming error                                                          5 hours   6/17/08

Gmail: site unavailable due to outage in contacts system                                       1.5 hours   8/11/08

Google App Engine erroneous network mapping                                                         1 hour      5/14/09

Source:  University of California at Berkeley

More Stories By Enrico DePaolis

Enrico started his career as an Electronics Engineer with OPT Industries, an Electronics Engineering firm specializing in high frequency magnetic components for the military. After OPT, Mr. DePaolis joined the Black & Decker Corporation where he won several awards for his innovative designs and peer mentoring. Mr. DePaolis also developed and managed the Information Technology arm for their Worldwide Engineering teams from Black & Decker’s World Headquarters in Towson, Maryland.

Most notably, Mr. DePaolis is recognized as an industry thought leader in computer technologies and has presented his views on technology and business to audiences worldwide.

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