Everywhere I turn, everybody’s talking about cloud computing. And I agree with Mike DiPetrillo, very few people understand what the cloud is today and what it could and/or should be tomorrow. I’ve kept silent on the topic of cloud computing on this blog until now, mainly because I prefer to know what I’m talking about before I put something out there for the world to see But now that I believe I’ve got a good grasp on it, I’d like to share a few of my thoughts …
What’s in a name?
First of all, I don’t like the name "cloud." I think it’s a stupid name. Let me explain why. I was with a customer the other day talking about the future of cloud computing and he said, "man, what a horrible name, it just sounds like the most insecure, undefined, unmanageable place … why would I ever want to put my apps in a cloud?" I couldn’t agree more. For years we’ve been preaching about putting applications in data centers, and the importance of securing data with things like firewalls and intrusion detection. You don’t even have to know what a firewall is, what it does or how it works, but the name just sounds safe. And in my opinion, referring to the next generation of computing as the "cloud" would be like if someone called the first firewall "come on in" and the industry adopted it.
To me (and many of the customer I’ve spoken to), the word cloud conjures up images of dancing ferries, unicorns and other mythical creatures all prancing around in some fluffy place somewhere northeast of never-never-land. But alas, cloud is the name the industry seems to have settled on. And since, at this point, I don’t have a better name to offer, I too will refer to it as the cloud. But for the record, I think the name should be something strong and manly, like Spike, or Butch, or Krull the Warrior King!
By the way, I like the name vShield Zones, a new VMware offering that will logically partition a cloud. I think a name like this conveys a much better image about where an organization’s apps and data “live.”
What is the cloud? An explanation for the business owner (IT people, you may want to stop reading now)
Most people still think about IT as servers and networks and storage, all powered by a bunch of computer geeks that hibernate in a data center or crawl around under desks when a computer breaks. Actually, they probably still think about IT this way because this is by and large the reality for almost all organizations.
But let me ask you this … why are thinking about IT at all? Unless you’re in the IT / Hosting business, shouldn’t you be thinking about, um, your business? You don’t think about electricity or the plumbing do you? No, you don’t. Unless of course, the electricity goes out or the toilets backup … then you can’t stop thinking about them! But I’m pretty sure an advertising company, for example, doesn’t have an electrician or a plumber on staff.
When cloud computing is fully realized, IT should be very much the same thing. It is a tool that should serve you and your business, not the other way around. Now, it’s not like servers and networks and storage and IT geeks like myself will cease to exist. No, we’ll still be here, but you won’t think or care about us anymore. *sniffle*
To understand the cloud, you need to STOP thinking about the plumbing behind the applications (i.e. servers / networks / storage), and you need to START thinking about what matters most, the applications and data you need to run your business.
When the cloud is fully realized, your applications will be always on, extremely reliable, accessible anytime and from anywhere, and they will “live” in a cloud. Now that cloud might be external to your organization, or it might be an internal cloud, built on your existing infrastructure. Either way, you’ll be able to self-provision new applications with a few clicks of a mouse and pay only for what you use.
Sounds pretty good, yes? Don’t go beating up your IT department just yet. While many pieces of cloud computing are in place, the cloud is still forming. Standards are being hammered out, committees are being formed, and it seems like everyone has a SOAP box, apparently even me (yes, I meant to capitalize SOAP, it’s a little joke for the developers)
I have more thoughts. More to come.