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Will Cloud Become the De Facto Standard for Computing?

An exclusive Q&A with Andrew Hillier, co-founder and CTO of CiRBA

"The recent TOSCA initiative has made interoperability for cloud computing closer than ever," observed Andrew Hillier, co-founder and CTO of CiRBA, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "However, until players like Amazon and Google join in," Hillier continued, "it will be difficult for organizations to move from one cloud to the other without risks to their data and infrastructure."

Cloud Computing Journal: Agree or disagree? - "While the IT savings aspect is compelling, the strongest benefit of cloud computing is how it enhances business agility."

Andrew Hillier: Although savings and agility are both compelling benefits, it's usually agility that's realized first. This isn't because it is a higher priority, but because it occurs earlier in the cloud adoption process. The push toward standardization and self-service can rapidly increase flexibility and decrease provisioning time, but can actually work against efficiency (much to the surprise of many cloud adopters). The resulting environments are difficult to manage, and many organizations end up with higher spend (for external clouds) or much lower density (internal clouds) than they originally envisioned. Fortunately, by adopting more sophisticated methods of planning and controlling these environments, workload placements and resource allocations can be safely optimized, eliminating over-provisioning once and for all and turning the cloud adoption process into the "win-win" that was originally targeted.

Cloud Computing Journal: Which of the recent big acquisitions within the Cloud and/or Big Data space have most grabbed your attention as a sign of things to come?

Hillier: Cisco's recent acquisitions, including Newscale and Tidal, are very interesting. Converged infrastructure with a decent "built-for-cloud" management stack could change the face of the hardware market. Add some analytics to manage the complexity by simplifying on-boarding and performing more advanced capacity management and organizations will be able to leverage these technologies extremely effectively. This type of approach is far superior to strategies that repurpose "old school" tools and frameworks, many of which were designed for physical environments, to attempt to cobble together a cloud ecosystem.

Cloud Computing Journal: In its recent "Sizing the Cloud" report Forrester Research said it expects the global cloud computing market to reach $241BN in 2020 compared to $40.7BN in 2010 - is that kind of rapid growth trajectory being reflected in your own company or in your view is the Forrester number a tad over-optimistic?

Hillier: I think what is interesting about the Forrester projections is the markets they see it happening in. Pure IaaS is projected to almost double and then contract slightly, which makes sense. The largest projected growth is in Virtual Private Clouds, which Forrester defines as a "hybrid business model of the highly standardized public cloud offerings provided over the public Internet and the more customized privately hosted solutions." Because this heavily overlaps with outsourcing and other remote hosting models in use today, this cloud growth will likely come at the expense of other segments, and may more resemble a "lateral shift" in hosting strategies than the explosive growth the numbers would suggest. In fact, one can argue that this growth should be attributed to the outsourcing market, and that the "cloud" prefix may even become meaningless in the next decade as it becomes the de-facto standard for computing.

Cloud Computing Journal: Which do you think is the most important cloud computing standard still to tackle?

Hillier: The recent TOSCA initiative has made interoperability for cloud computing closer than ever; however, until players like Amazon and Google join in, it will be difficult for organizations to move from one cloud to the other without risks to their data and infrastructure. The development of application and infrastructure templates will make the idea of public cloud computing more palpable to larger organizations, and the possibility of experiencing the true cost savings the cloud has promised more of a reality.

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