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Cloud Computing
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Is Cloud Computing Too Embryonic to Use for Serious Business Purposes?

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From Jeff Kaplan, who recently recorded this podcast: Is cloud computing just a 'wild west show' that is too embryonic to use for serious business purposes or has it matured enough to migrate core business processes to these web-based services?

A reminder, ebizQ's Cloud QCamp is coming this April.

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  • Cloud Computing is a service delivery model that is based on a broad spectrum of individually mature technologies such as Utility Computing, Virtualization, Grid technology, SaaS, SOA, Distributed Computing, Broadband Networks, etc. So, although, the term Cloud Computing is definitely embryonic, the platform that it represents and its underpinnings are not. There are numerous examples of well-known corporations and government agencies leveraging cloud computing to great success to streamline costs and as a revenue generator.

    The real question, IMHO, is not whether Cloud Computing is mature enough, but rather, whether the adopting organization is mature enough.

  • As the previous commenter noted, I think semantics and the alphabet soup of acronyms is causing much of the confusion. I think things were pretty clear a few years ago when the attention was focused on software as a service (SaaS) applications. While it might still be a "wild west show" of new vendors delivering new types of (ideally multitenant) apps "in the cloud", it's hard to deny the maturity of this model for most categories (CRM, HR, SCM, etc.).

    With the introduction of platform as a service (PaaS), things got a little "cloudy." There are new app dev platforms emerging and many of the SaaS app vendors have broadened to now deliver a platform. (e.g. Salesforce CRM --> Force.com).

    Cloud computing as infrastructure (IaaS) is where I believe things went from cloudy to foggy. This is less about business apps, which lines of business were and are drawn to, and more about the things IT has historically been focused on - hosting, storage, elasticity, and of course TCO.

    Breaking down the cloud into these three primary categories and sizing each accordingly definitely helps. I believe the real action is still in the SaaS segment, with PaaS adoption growing and IaaS still very early for enterprise IT outside of non-core functions.

    Now if we could just get all of the analysts and vendors to agree on a common set of categories and terminology...

  • There seems to be a consensus that we have to look at the meaning of Cloud Computing in the Enterprise context.

    I tend to distinguish between the infrastructure and the software architecture that can support the delivery of enterprise applications in the Cloud (to power users over the web), and the acquisition of such infrastructure and software on a per-use (or other non perpetual) basis.

    My personal experience shows that Enterprises are indeed implementing “Cloud Architecture� solutions which are substituting fat Client-Server implementations, but mostly using the traditional business model (perpetual ownership and in-house or hosted location) – when it concerns core and customized solutions. Cloud based infrastructure and applications delivered as a service and on-demand are indeed still limited to “commodity solutions� – collaboration, CRM, etc...

  • Technically, no. What difference does it make if an application is delivered from an off-site provider versus on on-site data center? Or for that matter, delivered in cloud-like fashion from the enterprise's own data center, versus someone else's?

    However, the industry itself -- and associated governance practices businesses need to undertake -- are embryonic. Standards need to be put in place, best practices documented, and the buyer needs to be aware of what's going on with their software suppliers. Companies are still in learning mode.

  • There are parts of the cloud like Infrastructure Services that are gaining adoption. As demand grows vendors need to catch-up on specific requirements with respect to geographic boundaries and regulation. Also other parts of the cloud will need time to build-out and may never exceed expected norms, example: availability is currently 99.5% and we may have to wait for specific clouds focusing only on performance and availability. Other areas like governance and security can be considered embryonic, but as with every other service they are also likely to mature in the next few years.

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