Would a cloud by any other name sell as well?
My last blog entry ‘Does Gartner understand cloud computing’ generated a lot of interest, especially in the twitter-o-sphere. This was no surprise, as opinions about this space tend to be very mixed. More so, I suspect that there is frustration with vendors, as your average ‘web application’ gets re-branded as a ‘cloud application’ and pitched to IT managers as the coolest thing since SOA, Agile Programming, UML, <other technology hype>. Senior IT professionals really just want to understand what the cloud is, without the hype and without any sales pitch.
So to be fair to Gartner, I thought I should take an attempt at my own definition of cloud computing:
“Cloud computing is defined as a self-service environment for the immediate provisioning of platforms and applications, with billing being based on granular usage consumption metrics.”
Take a look at the key attributes: self-service, immediate, granular billing. These attributes are really the main difference between cloud computing and any other technology. It’s the reason why having a web server is so 2000, while running a server on Amazon’s platform is so 2010: Amazon allows you to spin up images by yourself, makes them immediately available and will bill you for CPU, bandwidth and storage on an hourly basis. These limiting attributes are also the reason that cool new technologies can be implemented, such as the LabSlice virtual training environment – pull down training images on a need-be basis and pay solely for usage of the machine on an hourly basis. Very different from the old model of purchasing servers, deploying them in-house and then paying on an ongoing basis for hardware maintenance, usage and upgrades.
So the next time a vendor pitches you on a cloud solution, simply ask them the following:
1. Does your product offer self-service functionality to each and every one of our employees?
2. Is your solution immediately available to be used by each and every one of our employees?
3. Do you offer granular billing, so that we can pay you solely for what we consume?
By Simon Ellis
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