Cloud Computing: There is no spoon!

A recent Techcrunch article by Alex Williams was a fine read about how major players have had cognitive bias in their assessment of cloud computing and its impact on their market dominance. It is not completely unfounded, the players have enjoyed tremendous success in the traditional datacenter model, they would prefer to use that to their advantage.

About providers of private cloud technology, Alex says:

The reality: these systems have to be purchased, installed in a data center, loaded with software and then maintained by an IT team. To reiterate, customers do have a need for this infrastructure but it is more a retooling of the data center more than anything else.

This simply could not be more accurate. Private cloud will quickly evolve to being a niche segment. For most companies, the cloud offers the benefits they simply will be unable to do without.

Public Cloud Gaining Dominance

Gartner says public cloud is growing at an excellent rate of 18.5% but IaaS is at a staggering 42.4%.

The evidence is unassailable; AWS, Azure and other cloud providers are increasing marketshare by tremendous percentage each year. Their offering is not just a business execution, the technology is evolving, creating more options that are more versatile and powerful.

The utility of public cloud is fast approaching near ubiquity and the corner cases are becoming more and more marginal.

The utility of public cloud is fast approaching near ubiquity and the corner cases are becoming more and more marginal. How is this all happening? While the argument of focus, that AWS has only the software/tech to focus on, may hold some water but the truth is that the incumbents for private cloud may have wanted their reputation to stand for itself, disregarding the fact that IT efforts does not reduce to zero, may not even reduce substantially enough.

Charles Fitzgerald says:

IBM’s fundamental problem: they supply those being disrupted by technology, not those doing the disrupting. Today an IBM dependency can be an existential risk.

This argument can be interpreted in multiple ways; one may be that IBM may be making a mistake, but the more important one is that IBM is evolving and their current business model will be superceded. If you depend on that, you may soon fall into “legacy support” for them and that will harm your business operations.

Assess your needs carefully

Everyone craves comfort zones but the cloud has no room for players that need familiarity. “You cannot leap the chasm in two jumps”, and I’d also add, you cannot leap without getting both feet in the air. Simply put, if you keep trying to retrofit cloud to your hardware, you would have poorly addressed the strain from competition and may completely have you beaten, unless fixed fast. The phenomenal cloud growth and the numbers leave  no breathing room for slow incremental shift towards cloud.

Move fast, or risk complete wipeout.

Fortunately, experimenting with cloud is not expensive or risky as experimenting with owning datacenters. Most of the cloud is OpEx/subscription model and you only pay for a short duration. There is no risk of sunk costs, yet the potential gains are disproportionately high.

Cloud Computing: There is no spoon

Its time to abandon conventional way of thinking. See past the obvious choices and retrofitted solutions. Choosing hardware for your cloud security is the most likely to be wrong right off the bat, will certainly be wrong in the long run where the massive leaps in cloud computing will make every shiny hardware obsolete much sooner than you want.

Security is the top inhibitor to cloud adoption

Security is seen as the number one inhibitor to the cloud, that is true for two reasons

  1. There is little understanding for cloud-freshers of where their provider’s responsibility ends and their own begins.
  2. Cloud Security is not the same as what you are used to in the datacenter.

I’ll make things simpler. Security is always your problem. You may not need to be directly involved to solve it, but you need to know what you have chosen. In the recent past there have been several security breaches with embarrasing and expensive data thefts, you do not want to be one of them.

The second point is self-explanatory. Cloud is not the same as datacenter, the technology is different, the underlying assumptions are different and most importantly the infrastructure is mostly opaque to your IT. You have to make a informed choice, there is no way a tool as powerful as cloud computing would be trivial to use effectively.

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