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Industry Experts Discuss the State of Cloud Computing

By far the top driver is speed: speed to procure and provision infrastructure, platforms and applications

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"With cloud computing, price to deploy applications goes through the floor while flexibility to scale those applications goes through the ceiling!" says WaveMaker CEO Chris Keene, in this lively round-up of CEO and CTO opinions to get a sense of The State of Cloud Computing compiled and published by Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. 4th International Cloud Computing Conference & Expo is taking place this week at the Santa Clara Convention Center (November 2-4, 2009).



Keene's take on what's driving Cloud Computing enterprise-wise is just one of several high-profile contributions. Those contributing to Geelan's impromptu survey include: RightScale CEO Michael Crandell; the Chairman & CEO of WaveMaker, Chris Keene; the CTO of GigaSpaces, Nati Shalom; Lew Cirne, Founder & CEO of New Relic; Mitchell Kertzman of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners; and the Chief Technology Officer of CSC, Bill Koff.

QUESTION #1: What in your view are the Top Two drivers of the adoption of Cloud Computing?

NATI SHALOM, GigaSpaces
1. Business agility – the ability to deploy new applications quickly
2. Efficiency – the ability to run application more effectively and reduce cost as a result of that (Note that I'm not referring on reducing cost at a machine level)

MICHAEL CRANDELL, RightScale
1. Business agility
2. Cost reduction.

BILL KOFF, CSC
1. Economics & Business Value
2. Speed

CHRIS KEENE, WaveMaker
The top drivers are price and flexibility. With cloud computing, price to deploy applications goes through the floor while flexibility to scale those applications goes through the ceiling!

LEW CIRNE, New Relic
1. By far the top driver is speed: speed to procure and provision infrastrcture, platforms and applications. We see business demanding IT solutions in days, and traditional IT often can't respond faster than in months. For example, an application development team in the business unit might need a server immediately to run a load test. The central IT team - burdened as they are with shrinking budgets and increased demands on their time - may respond with something like say "please fill out a form and we'll procure that server for you and provision it. It should be ready in 4-6 weeks." Unable to wait that long, the team gets a cloud-based instance running on EC2 in 10 minutes.

2. The second driver is financial. Enterprise IT organizations are tired of buying more hardware and software than they need with large cash outlays up front. The days of shelfware are almost over, and everybody benefits from that - except perhaps the shelfware vendor.

QUESTION #2: What is the biggest category of user currently using the Cloud?

BILL KOFF
Web email users

CHRIS KEENE
Consumer-facing web sites

MICHAEL CRANDELL
Wide variety from SMB to Enterprise today.  Biggest category is "forward thinking."

QUESTION #3: Which in your view are the Top Five Companies in the Cloud as at late Fall 2009?

NATI SHALOM
•    Amazon
•    VMware
•    GoGrid
•    Rackspace
•    Citrix


MICHAEL CRANDELL
•    Amazon
•    Rackspace
•    VMware
•    Eucalyptus
•    RightScale ;-)


CHRIS KEENE

There is more smoke than light in the cloud debate these days. My vote for the top 5 cloud companies includes the four companies that make up the IBM Cloud Quick Start Program - Amazon, IBM, RightScale WaveMaker - and Eucalyptus, which makes moves the private cloud from dream to reality.

LEWIS CIRNE
"I think the top players in cloud are those names you'd expect (Amazon, Rackspace, Salesforce, etc.) but the more interesting question is this: What are the top five companies that are having their world turned upside down because of the cloud? Historically, enterprise software companies have built out their business by taking heavyweight software 'solutions' to market with a large, expensive direct sales force.

This has been very expensive, and the customer has borne the burden of that cost. Now, enterprises are adopting cloud solutions because of their instant access and pay-only-for-what you use benefits, and this drives a totally different delivery model for the vendor. As the cloud totally changes go-to-market and deployment models for software vendors, the firms that are locked into the historical direct models will have significant challenges adapting to this new world order. So I think SAP, IBM Software Group, Oracle (despite Larry's rhetoric), HP and CA will all have a very tough time changing their business models to provide viable cloud solutions for their customers."

QUESTION #4: Who is NOT currently using the Cloud, who maybe ought to be?


BILL KOFF
Enterprise users

LEWIS CIRNE
Many financial services firms - while they are certainly looking at cloud and will no doubt adopt it in due course, are for good reason very concerned about the security questions related to adopting cloud infrastructure, especially public cloud infrastructure.  I think those security issues will get addressed over time, but there will be certain classes of applications that will always make sense to run on dedicated hardware in a private data center. 

MICHAEL CRANDELL
Anyone who has not begun an effort to move the 40% of apps that are "low hanging fruit" -- i.e. not highly security sensitive, transient demand, could benefit from quick deployment.

NATI SHALOM
Deploying mission critical application, Deploying performance or latency sensitive applications, Deploying Complex applications (with lots of ties to the organization)

QUESTION #5: In which sector of IT do you think Cloud Computing will make its impact most noticeably in 2010?

MICHAEL CRANDELL
Enterprise

BILL KOFF
Infrastructure: Storage

CHRIS KEENE
Bringing web development and deployment to the masses through visual, easy-to use cloud development platforms.

LEWIS CIRNE

We see a lot of interest in government agencies for private clouds to dramatically reduce their IT infrastructure costs and improve agility. (When's the last time you heard "Government" and "Agility" in the same sentence?)

QUESTION #6: What is the killer app for cloud computing?

CHRIS KEENE
Ecosystem is the killer app for cloud computing. Integrating solutions from multiple vendors to create a best of breed solution is what the cloud does best. In the cloud, ecosystems are easier to create, both from a business and technical point of view. They are also much more transparent, as the results of their efforts are available for the whole world to see. Two good examples include the Cloud Quick Start program with IBM, Amazon, RightScale and WaveMaker, as well as the ecosystem for cloud business intelligence launched a little over a month ago featuring Jaspersoft, RightScale, Talend and Vertica.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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dyoungg2ix 10/13/09 03:27:00 PM EDT

Jill, I couldn't agree with you more. Moreover, I think that cloud computing will create opportunities where IT will no longer be simply a necessary expense, but an actual revenue center for the enterprise as well.

Damon Young

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