First, it is really obvious that there is no clear definition of "cloud computing", but that doesn't seem to dampen the excitement and enthusiasm for this new computing model. I guess so that we can put some more structure around the discussion lets just say that "cloud computing" is a generic term for any information technology solution that does not use in-house data center or traditional managed hosting resources. Sound fair?
So here are some common threads and key differentiators as I have seen them:
* the concept of providing easily accessible computing and storage resources on a "pay-as-you-go", "on-demand" basis, from a virtually infinite infrastructure managed by someone else.
* The capability to access your application anywhere, move it freely and easily, and inexpensively add resources for instant scalability.
* In my opinion it represents a true next phase of computing, and it is changing the way IT infrastructure is being delivered and consumed.
So back in the day before I was in IT, I lived another life as a trader on Wall Street. I still have some friends out there so I decided to make some calls to see who could hook me up with some of the analysts that track this industry. Well it turns out that this market is hotter than I originally had thought. Some of the analysts put cloud computing at more than a $160 billion dollar market. Holy %&*^!!! Really? I know that's a pretty big number isn't it? But get this, even though this computing model is still in its infancy some of the leading indicators are really showing how fast this model is growing. For instance, Forrester reports that bandwidth for Amazon’s EC2 and S3 in Q4 of 2007 exceeded all of the global Amazon.com web properties combined during their busiest time of the year. Again, holy $#*&%$!!!!
Ok, so now I'm wondering what are the types of products that are available in the cloud. I use the word "products" semi-loosely. So I did a little more research and found three types:
1. Applications in the cloud (Salesforce comes to mind first)
2. Platforms in the cloud (Google's AppEngine comes to mind first)
3. Infrastructure in the cloud (Amazon's EC2 infrastructure comes to mind first here)
There was a conference just last week (June 25th) called Structure 08 in San Francisco. I wasn't there this year, but you can count on seeing me there next year. Anyway, one of the opening addresses was by Jonathan Yarmis who is the VP of Advanced, Emerging and Disruptive Technologies at AMR Research. Mr. Yarmis echos what I have been blogging about for a while now, Change. Mr Yarmis states that, “The world is about to change, and change in profoundly interesting ways.” What have I been saying? He goes on to state that, “The enterprise itself hasn’t figured out how to embrace cloud computing; users are figuring it out very quickly.” How true is that? If you think about it users are way ahead of where the rest of enterprise IT is and IT needs to be paying closer attention.
I'm really starting to dig in on this and getting my head around what is going on in this space and what this will be doing to our world (Citrix, VMware, etc etc). I mentioned it in another post, Virtual Service-Oriented Grids. I can guarantee as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow that within the next five years we (being IT professionals) will be entering in or already neck deep in a transformational period due to the new architectures of enterprise IT. It might be time to bring your skills up my friends.