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Thoughts on cloud

There’s an interesting post over at IT Skeptic talking about Cloud Computing and how it will fit within the enterprise, do check it out. I remain a fan of the concept, though do agree in terms of how we can get cloud to work in the enterprise. Oh there’s no doubt for some applications or services, outsourcing the hosting or service can make sense, but there remain a few issues around the outsourcing model which we’ve discussed before, (I’ll go over them in a minute), but the key issue remains with cloud is investment, industrial computing and ownership.

For the enterprises issues over ownership of data, of data security, privacy, when I allocate workload to the external cloud (email/application code for processing) are the disks securely wiped? Who owns the server, is it me? Will Mike from another business be able to access that server, that data, and what is the cost per cpu hour or transaction? The old issue remains of internal cross charging and hidden fees. Do you as an application guy know the true cost of your application? Do you not just pay fixed IT costs, and then the cost of your staff? With that in mind how prepared to buy-in compute resources will I be if I actually have to pay that true cost? Remember, an application or infrastructure cost can easily be ‘hidden’ within total costs. I don’t make HR liable for extra hardware support cost because their servers are older than Facilities. If HR’s database is failing more regularly, they do not typically face increased support cost, on-call is typically part of shared IT cost as is monitoring.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see real opportunities in the SME markets, whether it’s an email server, web farm or application which I can download from the internet and not worry about the licensing, the server costs, the backups and everything else, just pay what you use – googlemail is the prime example. I wonder though if we might see this in the virtualization space?

Demand for cloud, whether it will work for you is going to typically depend on:

  • Data sensitivity
  • Understanding your requirements and internal costs
  • Portability and suitability of application code/feeds to cloud
  • Internal barriers to the platform – technical/political barriers to success – the cost of licenses internally, the ability to absorb cost, and to over-rule IT – you can’t do that as easily with a service provider. The “That’s an IT cost”
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