I had the privilege of attending Midsize Enterprise Summit in Orlando in May. While the weather was delightful, the long days of the conference made sure we didn't really get time to enjoy it.
The theme of the week was cloud computing, and several notable experts from Gartner Research, as well as industry representative from such organizations as Microsoft, HP, and Google have shared their organization's vision of what cloud computing is all about.
Gartner Analyst Tom Bittman provided possibly the best view of cloud computing in two separate keynote addresses. In a nutshell, he stated that Cloud computing is a style of computing and comes in many variations from a full public cloud, a mixture of public/private, as well as closed private clouds.
His other key points and recommendations:
- Cloud computing won’t save the world, but ignoring it will put you at competitive disadvantage.
- Research shows that cloud computing is "not quite ready", proceed with caution, but that doesn't mean don't proceed. The only bad cloud strategy is no cloud strategy.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) will be the graveyard for old applications. It initially looks easier, but ends up requiring more work to maintain. This is not the area to pursue to build differentiation.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service) is preferred. This will be the primary place for new development, new applications.
- SaaS (Software as a Service) will be best for commodity software, (e.g. email, office apps) which are products and services that are essential, but do not provide a differentiating advantage for your organization.
- There will not be a single Cloud provider of everything you may need. Cloud broker services will become the new systems integrator.
- Most implementations will be mixed. Traditional infrastructure will exist with brokered services.
- The most appropriate for cloud:
- Non differentiating applications (e.g mail)
- Static service - very little change
- Very separate from business.
Applications and services you should not put into the cloud:
- Those that are a business differentiator.
- Those that change often
- Those that are highly integrated with business operations
This was much in alignment with the other keynote presentations, with one exception.
Jay Remley, Head of MidMarket Sales, Google Enterprises presented his vision of Innovation at the pace of 100% web. Apparently someone forgot to mention that he really should check to see who might be in attendance in the audience before he gave his presentation. If it is a room full of CIOs and IT Directors, the Male Bovine Effluent Detectors are highly tuned.
Rather than an overview of Google's strategy regarding the cloud, we were subjected to a sales pitch for Google's web products and the Chrome operating system. After telling us how bad and costly is was to have our own infrastructure, he described the move to 100% Web as the only viable alternative. As an example, he then pulled out a Chrome based computer (which he called a "webtop") and used the scenario that he had been working on a document on the airplane, but then had accident (which he simulated by throwing the webtop on the ground).
He picked up a new webtop and showed us the magic of how his work was safe, because it had been stored in the cloud.
Given how quiet it was in the room, I'm sure I wasn't the only skeptical one.
Mr. Remley's document may have been safe, but his connection with the audience had just tanked. The questions at the end of the session were not gracious, and poked holes in much of Google's cloud strategy. What about offline caching? What about doing more than corporate documents? What about performance? The standard answer became "We are working on it this summer".
I'm sure Mr. Remley was glad when the session was over. Given the relatively complete and realistic view of the current state of the cloud given by Gartner, Microsoft, and HP, Google was sadly an outlier. He really should have read his audience better and skipped the marketing spin, and concentrated on how Google would work with real world issues that mid market enterprises are facing today.
We were not amused.
Cloud Computing for Dummies
What is Cloud Computing (Don Sheppard)
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