Monday, October 19, 2009

A cloudy definition

A lot of the trade press is talking about cloud computing and even the Economist has gotten the bug. That surprised me because the cloud is a fairly technical concept.

"Granted, there are hundreds if not thousands of firms offering cloud services—web-based applications living in data centres, such as music sites or social networks. But Microsoft, Google and Apple play in a different league. Each has its own global network of data centres. They intend to offer not just one or two services, but whole suites of them, with services including e-mail, address books, storage, collaboration tools and business applications. They are also vying to dominate the periphery, either by developing software for smart-phones and other small devices or by making such devices themselves."

I speak to customers about cloud services on a daily basis, depending on the definition of "cloud computing" we are all using some or maybe using a lot. But for enterprise storage security reasons most of the folks we work with are leery of the amorphous cloud as their depository for critical company data. At Zerowait we don't consider remote access of data cloud computing, since most of the companies we deal with have remote data sources and applications.

If remote data centers, web enabled applications and Citrix type access are defined as part of cloud computing, then it is ubiquitous. It seems to depend on the definitions and the expectations of the users and whether they consider the cloud to be third party hosted applications and storage or not.

I think the question should revolve around who owns and runs your organization's critical databases and applications. If the lines of ownership of the hardware assets and the data are unclear you may be a cloud user already.

Wikipedia
says this... "A technical definition is "a computing capability that provides an abstraction between the computing resource and its underlying technical architecture (e.g., servers, storage, networks), enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction." This definition states that clouds have five essential characteristics: on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service."

Whatever your opinion is, I think everyone will agree that some stuff should not leave your organization's control.

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