Some thoughts around the latest buzz of Cloud Computing

We have all heard what "cloud computing" is and that it is a "disruptive technology" and it has been billed as the "IT department killer"

I've been thinking a while on this and I wanted to share some of these thoughts with you and get your opinions/thoughts/feedback on this topic.  We have all heard what "cloud computing" is and that it is a "disruptive technology" and it has been billed as the "IT department killer" etc.

I agree that this is a very disruptive technology and that there are many benefits to it, but I'm also thinking about the business side of this technology.  I think it's very important to keep the business in mind and not the technology.  Cloud computing needs to be looked holistically from the enterprise prespective.

This is going to be a paradigm shift in thinking at every company.  When executives and management make decisions around investments and what constitutes success, they won't be making them on just individual projects or specific technologies.  Cloud computing is about the whole enterprise.

In some of the surveys and papers I've been reading lately, I can see that cost savings and squeezing more efficiency out of operations are great reasons for pursuing cloud computing.  I'm sure this is where most companies will get their motivation for experimenting.  Even though I'm a little skeptical of the survey there was some interesting numbers that offset massive adoption of this new computing model.  In a recent survey of IT executives (C-level and other executives in IT) 51% of the 282 respondents stated that cloud computing/development in the cloud wasn't even on the radar screen or they had no interest.  But there are a large percentage that are tracking/evaluating this category.  So what is what?  How far out do you think we are with a serious migration to this computing model from where we are today?

I can just imagine that if hardware and software were available on demand and always up-to-date, this would allow companies to focus on new business and find new ways to find and satisfy their customer base.  But as changes in management and on-demand capabilities improve with virtualization technologies around the same metrics (virtual servers, virtual desktops, application workloads being streamed to virtualized OSes, what will be the determing factors in the decision to move to cloud computing?  Thoughts on this?

In knowing how quickly the SMB folks move I can see that they would be early adopters of cloud computing and would probably gain more from cloud computing.  On the other side of the spectrum, large enterprises will have some major challengs moving completely into the cloud.  I see issues with some proprietary systems, some of which I'm sure are very mission critical and complex.  I see issues with some business processes that are unique to the companies, that have been in place for a long time, and that can't easily be handed off.

I can also see where there is going to be a major shift in enterprise architecture.  This will now require a more strategic tack taking into account all business process from beginning to end, taking into consideration business partners, customers, etc.  If a company decides to head into the cloud without using a strategic enterprise architecture, you will disastrous outcomes. 

I think cloud computing will not be the end of IT, but will just shift what IT does and will really place IT in a strategic position and achieving that "all elusive" Business/IT integration goal.

So people what are your thoughts?  Share them and let's see where we are with this computing model.

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Yes cloud computing will replace IT departments! Just like the paperless office we all see today!

Of course it wont. But it will complement existing IT infrastructures and it will probably help to create smaller, more dynamic businesses.

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My guess is that it will follow a similar pattern as did outsourcing or offshoring. Many will rush wholesale to it and then pull back to a more reasonable level. Others will be more pragmatic with their approach.

IT's roll, in my opinion has always been that of the integrator, making sure that all of the parts play nicely with each other in the business ecosystem. That won't change but it will be more challenging.
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I see the true cost savings in data center maintenance for small - medium size companies. I dont think it will be too viable down the road for large organizations' bread and butter apps to be maintained in the cloud.

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Dell should provide cloud computing services to their business customers. That is the real impact cloud computing will have. Companies will be less likely to purchase their own servers and be forced to worry about all the other requirements and costs associated to running a server in the enterprise when they can simply pay for their usage on a cloud computing platform.
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I read a lot of words about the "cloud computing". Mostly everything is incoherant, out of the blue stupid marketing. I think that we as a community deserve better that that?

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as these comments indicate, this type of thinking is a huge shift from what is today the "norm" so its seen as fringe... my belief is that if it was going to be a factor it would have already taken hold. I think it would take a major change in culture as much as technology.


come back later, the answer is a bit cloudy

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A very interesting article The Economist wrote recently:

http://www.economist.com/business/displayStory.cfm?story_id=11413148&fsrc=nwlehfree

1.5% of all energy used in the USA? Quite scary

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How will enterprises ever trust anything but the most banal of computing tasks (e.g. ordering toilet-rolls) to cloud based processors. Those processors will almost certainly be virtual and anyone with access to the host system will be able to look into RAM and see traces of whatever is going on inside the VM. I can see no security technology that's going to put CEOs' minds at rest on this!
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There was a great blog post out on Burton Group's Executive Advisory blog yesterday.  Take a read of this:


http://eapblog.burtongroup.com/executive_advisory_progra/2008/06/parting-the-clo.html


Cheers

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A little tidbit out of the Burton Group blog:


It remains to be seen whether the security and availability concerns with cloud computing have been overcome.  Not to mention vendor lock-in (are there cloud computing access standards?).


Cloud computing is one step away from the fog: Chris' description of removing barriers between internal and external services. The cloud will exert pressure on IT to engage outside services like an internal application.  This will give rise to new expectations for identity federation, security and information integration.

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I agree. I can't ever imagine an IT director of a large enterprise moving over to cloud computing for mission-critical applications. The control and security just aren't there and I think episodes like, amongst others, the TK-Maxx data loss disaster have (forgive the pun) clouded their view of this whole concept significantly.


Where I think companies like Microsoft definitely need to be on the ball is in the consumer area. For a consumer, or perhaps even (very) small businesses, convenience will normally outweigh security fears. Online Banking is a good example. No-one, in my experience, who has intensive technical knowledge of the IT security market, banks online but I do. Ignorance is bliss :-)

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