Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clouds bring hazy weather and El Nino is a worry

Over the last few months, I have been asked to participate in many surveys and discussions on Cloud Computing. Everyone is attempting to find when will enterprise customers start adopting this new technology which promises to change the world of IT. There have been debates about public clouds and private cloud infrastructure, as more recently heterogeneous clouds. The first time I gained some insight about Cloud Computing, it was when I read the wonderful book "Big Switch" by Nicholas Carr. I thought I understood what he talked about, and then I met so many vendors and consultants. Every time I look at the sky, see the Clouds, but the picture remains hazy.

The term itself has become a kind of misnomer with vendors and consultants twisting it around to suit their reality and service/product offering. Based on various reports and anecdotal references across the web, it would appear that tapping the wonderful world of Cloud Computing is as simple as buying a subscription to a public cloud service and your computing woes will disappear before you could utter (what else) "Cloud Computing" ! Software vendors want you to believe that their SaaS offerings are an offering of cloud infrastructure. Almost all the big IT vendors, be it red, blue or any other color have announced investments into clouds. PE funds are asking startups to create services around clouds. Optimism over understanding and reality ?

In my context which is validated with many other peers in the industry, the reality for every enterprise is the heterogeneous nature of the current computing fabric comprising many operating environments, databases and middleware running across all types of hardware. Bandwidth is as yet pricey in the Indian context and not yet ubiquitous. Data privacy concerns as yet remain unaddressed. So the context of leveraging public clouds as yet remains challenged not to forget the paranoia about the data being hosted on shared infrastructure.

What does this mean for the CIO ? Simply put, listen to every view and opinion on how your enterprise can leverage the wonderful world of Cloud Computing. Look at your current reality and then set forth to leverage what you have with a mix of the standard and now maturing technologies like virtualization and clustering (or grid) to create your own "private cloud" which will definitely bring you efficiency within your existing investments.

As the marketplace matures and vendors begin to understand how enterprises consume computing power, the traction is likely to improve and we will start seeing real life scenarios of how this technology can start driving efficiencies within IT organizations as well as deliver better TCO and ROI.

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