A Tale of Two Clouds

Arthur Cole

The cloud is the answer to all our IT problems -- from poor performance to lack of scale to high energy costs. The cloud is a sucker's game that merely shifts responsibility for IT infrastructure to different hands, leads to performance issues of its own and leaves your data more open to theft.

If both of those statements happened to be true -- and we won't know for sure until it starts to amass significant workloads -- would that alter your plans to deploy cloud infrastructure in any way? Apparently not, if the latest research is to be believed.

One the one hand, we have reports from groups like Global Industry Analysts that predict the cloud services market is set to top $200 billion in the next five years. That would represent a blazingly fast growth curve, driven largely by enterprise needs to cut costs and expand capabilities in what is likely to be a mediocre economy at best.

But it's tough to square that level of acceptance with the increasing anecdotal evidence that suggests a large number of IT professionals are hesitant to place too much reliance on the cloud due to security concerns and a lack of interoperable standards. As Computerworld's Patrick Thibodeau points out after dropping in on the recent SaaScon conference, resolution of these concerns is only starting to materialize through groups such as the Cloud Security Alliance, meaning that it could be years before a workable solution is available.

Part of this phenomenon could be attributable to something akin to the new car factor. The TV commercial may look great and the features are top notch, but only when you sit down with financing do you realize the price isn't exactly what was advertised and the warranty doesn't quite cover everything. Still, it's hard not to get excited when presented with services like on-demand provisioning, unlimited scalability and global load balancing -- throw in the undercoating and free oil changes for life, and you have a deal.

For the ultra-large organization, cloud computing may emerge as the only alternative in a few short years. Take the Department of Defense, which is about as big as you can get IT-wise. It hopes to shift its entire e-mail system to a cloud infrastructure over the next few years to streamline its operational environment and provide soldiers with lifetime e-mail portability no matter where in the world they may be. That kind of functionality aboard an in-house network would be doable, but only with a significant capital outlay and layers of expensive maintenance and management.

So is the cloud a net gain or a net loss for the enterprise? The short answer is both. It will deliver an entirely new level of efficiency and functionality over current enterprise infrastructure, but it won't usher in a new IT nirvana.

Again, I go back to my new car analogy. I don't know about you, but it seems that no matter what I buy, I end up paying more than I want and getting less than I expect.

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Apr 14, 2010 8:54 AM Gary Anderson Gary Anderson  says:

Cloud computing is going to have potential benefits to the really big customers and the smaller customers who don't have the scale to get full utilization or functionality out of their servers and facilities. For those who fall in between, there will be a tendency to dabble in the cloud until all of the 'bugs' are worked out. In the meantime, those latter customers will get more bang for their buck by centralizing, streamlining, virtualizing and improving their efficiencies through purchasing new, energy-efficient servers.

Mar 28, 2011 10:11 AM Cincinnati Website Design Cincinnati Website Design  says:

Cloud is really getting bigger and bigger by every day as we speak. There are a lot of potentials in their system and it is well paying off. Thanks for the article.


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