Pain in the aaSemantics

Filed under: Cloud Computing — Tags: , , , — bxl — July 29, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

We (other members of the 3tera team and I) had the pleasure of talking to John Foley this week. John is writing for InformationWeek and is focusing on Cloud Computing. This is a knowledgeable guy who has thoroughly researched the space.

During the chat, something very important dawned on me. This space is getting noisier and noisier – rightfully so – Cloud Computing is hotter than Hades and better than sliced bread! And we are making it even noisier with our semantics.

People do not define terms in this space consistently. I think it’s ironic that the semantics of Cloud Computing are, er, uh …, well, cloudy.

I’ll paraphrase:

IW – You talk about internal Clouds behind firewalls. How can a Cloud be private and internal?

3tera – We think of Cloud Computing in terms of how, not where?

IW – I disagree. Cloud Computing is running on IT infrastructure that you don’t own – someone else is the datacenter operator.

3tera – Maybe this is just semantics. We could call private Clouds “internal utilities” instead of private “Clouds”. If an enterprise were to run an app in an external Cloud and wants to connect that to their systems of record in their own datacenters, they might want to consider the same platform in their data centers.”

…. and so on.

After wrangling about that for several minutes, the subject changed. All we accomplished though was an addition to the confusion.

The epiphany for me during that conversation is that whatever I call Cloud Computing and whatever someone else calls Cloud Computing is kind of irrelevant. A couple of years from now, someone will obsolete the term Cloud Computing with something more trendy and we’ll debate what THAT is.

For me, the future holds computing services on demand – Information Technology as a Service – MASSIVELY scalable IT as a Service. ITaaS – the sound of that tickles my funny bone. ITaaS will use the Internet and, I think, intranets as well. End users will need no regard for the underlying technologies that support their services. They will only need to know that the services are available and perform at any scale on demand.

If someone installs a generator in their home instead of using the power utility, they get electricity on demand, the same as if they plug into a public utility.

I concede though, at face value, the economics of Cloud Computing seem to favor Clouds as external entities. After all, the hallmark of anything on demand is that you only pay for what you consume. External Clouds can accomplish this by making the same hardware available, at different times, to different users, thus, eliminating idle time and getting the most bang for the buck. But looking deeper, the economics favor internal, private Clouds as well. If a data center manager wants to be provisioned only for average usage rather than peak usage, he/she can do that if he/she is on a Cloud infrastructure that can grab resources from external Clouds only occasionally, when needed. If you add to that, with a Cloud done right, the data center manager manages applications rather than servers, decreasing administration costs; and, time to market is greatly reduced due to the lack of need for tedious provisioning, configuring, etc., the economics of the private Cloud become quite compelling.

To me, the bottom line is this. This is the 21st century. It has been almost forty years since a man walked on the moon. For most of those forty years, almost all businesses have relied to some degree on Information Technology. It’s about time that IT is available on demand – really on demand – and everyone can have access to world class technology, only paying for what they consume.

So, call it Cloud, call it Utility, call it Platform as a Service, call it ITaas, call it whatever you want to call it. But please, don’t call me late to dinner … and, pretty please, don’t call me late to the on demand computing revolution!

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