IT Analyst: The Cloud May Not Exist

Cloud Question

What is “the cloud”? Well, it’s actually thousands of technological infrastructures, each designed and managed by individual companies. One IT analyst thinks that the notion of a single cloud is ill-conceived.

  • The Cloud,” or a Cheap Imitation?
  • Cloud Snowflake Syndrome: Every Cloud is Very, Very Special
  • Careful Review of Outsourcing & Cloud
  • Cloud Choice is Essential

The Cloud,” or a Cheap Imitation?

What’s wrong with “the cloud”? It’s easy to see the benefits in terms of expense and speed. However, the marketing nonsense, where everything is called “the cloud” when it’s actually an individual cloud that is being referenced, gets old fast. In fact, in some cases, “the cloud” is hardly a cloud at all. Take, for instance, AWS – is that “the cloud”? If it is, then why is a guy who built a $200 million cloud startup calling AWS’s monolithic cloud “irrelevant” and “weak”?

IT analyst Stanton Jones of benchmarking consultancy ISG says that we should start using “a cloud” instead so that we can repair the damage of thinking that every corporation with big marketing dollars can tell us they are selling us the cloud when it’s often a cheap imitation and certainly doesn’t deserve the status of “the cloud.”

The problem is that this difficult-to-pinpoint technology has become a cure-all. What will solve all legacy IT problems, including cost, complexity, and speed? The cloud will. Right, that answer seems fine until you look at how vast the cloud computing industry is and how unstandardized it is.

“Depending on the cloud that buyers choose, the services they’ll receive are a combination of outsourcing and insourcing, with some traditional software procurement mixed in,” added Jones. “Either way, it will likely look very different from traditional on-premises IT or traditional ITO.”

Cloud Snowflake Syndrome: Every Cloud is Very, Very Special

In the current ecosystem, there are pluses and minuses. Due to the general lack of standardization, we have a bunch of different clouds, and it’s hard to tell what’s what. The positive is that each cloud tries to stand out through innovation and differentiation.

Who knows, though. We could have an interoperable, open-cloud future. There are two ways this can be achieved. One is through cloud standardization that would allow workloads to pass seamlessly from one cloud to another.

The other approach is “attacking this problem from an application point of view,” explained Jones. “Docker, an open-source initiative that creates ‘containers’ for applications, hopes to solve this problem by creating application portability across environments.”

Although it sounds as if cloud technology is moving in the right direction in some ways, the idea of data being able to change hands easily is not as prominent as you work your way up the cloud stack from infrastructure to platform to software. Overall, SaaS pulls in much more revenue than does IaaS. Cloud software companies aren’t as focused on interoperability, instead creating customized mobile and analytic functionalities that only work within their own systems.

Cloud Snowflake Syndrome is confusing for those buying ITO. Many buyers just assume it’s all the same. If it’s all the same, you might as well go with the lowest-priced option that will be the easiest to adopt and has the strongest support staff. But it’s not.

Careful Review of Outsourcing & Cloud

That’s only part of the story. If you want to approach the situation intelligently, also consider these three differences between companies that provide outsourcing and companies that provide cloud.

#1 – Cost

The specific cloud that you choose for infrastructure will not mean that you necessarily spend less money.

“For public cloud IaaS, cost savings depend heavily on designing an appropriate infrastructure configuration for the application and the usage profile of this configuration,” said Jones. “The potential for savings is unique to each provider and how the buyer chooses to use the platform.”

#2 – Standards

Outsourcing providers typically base their systems on universally accepted industrial standards. Although there are certain standards that cloud providers use, such as SSAE 16 to verify the security of their data centers, it’s really much more of a jungle (hence the importance of our Passmark–rated servers, as discussed below, which blow AWS out of the water). It’s typically difficult not to overpay when looking at cloud infrastructure. Similarly, software clouds typically can’t go below a certain number of users once they are signed on. Cloud choice is paramount.

#3 – Management

Third, the routine management provided by an extensive staff at outsourcing providers is no longer necessary with the sophistication of automation allowed by cloud architectures. APIs talk with one another and with clients. Clearly support still matters, so it’s a factor to consider in your cloud choice, but there is also significant disparity among the APIs that are used.

“The robustness and maturity of these APIs varies wildly from cloud provider to cloud provider,” commented Jones. “Again, each cloud is unique, therefore, the way that buyers interact with each cloud provider will be unique as well.”

Cloud Choice is Essential

As established above, calling cloud technology “the cloud” creates confusion and allows cheap imitations to be taken seriously in the marketplace.

You want standards? Our systems meet numerous international standards and compliance guidelines, and all of our cloud servers are Passmark-rated.

Plus, our cloud is simply just better than the competition, with performance that is typically 4 times higher than Amazon and SoftLayer.

By Kent Roberts


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