A Cloud of Confusion!

It really amazes me that there is still so much confusion about cloud, and maybe it’s just a result of having spent far too much time involved in the subject, such that I have separated the “wheat from the chaff” and to me it all looks quite simple now (ish) or maybe its to the tribute of so many marketeers that they have successfully managed to hang their coats on the cloud banner so successfully, such that cloud to you means something completely different to me.

At last night’s launch of “the Cloud Circle” it was clear that a cloud of confusion is alive and well such that I started to feel a sense in panic among the participants with almost everyone being asked by someone higher up in their organisation why “they’re not on the cloud too”. It reminded me a little of the dotcom bubble crossed with the days when the enterprise had to by an ESB. As a savvy marketing type at IBM said at the time, if the customer wants an ESB, then I’ll give them an ESB, I’ll even paint it on the box if they like!” But I guess unlike these examples that we’re in most cases truly hype, cloud, despite the name and lack of definition does seem to be more tangible and take on a more disruptive edge not just to delivers of software solutions, but to the corporate model itself.

Emma Taylor (founder of Cloud Circle) kicked things off by sharing some of the results of their member survey stating that 19% think cloud is hype and 25% thinking it’s the real deal, leaving some 54% in some state of indifference, denial or confusion. My suspicion being that this figure is heavily skewed to the latter end.

The presentations that followed, highlighted the breadth of cloud with a Google pitch on their “software as a service” (SaaS) offerings followed by two organisations that have built their SaaS businesses on the Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud platform which is widely viewed as a Platform as a Service (Paa)S cloud offering.

I got my turn on the panel, which was fun, I got into a bit of a rant and heard my self say “choice, choice, choice” at one stage and in closing said “beware free and beware zero downtime” but other than that I felt I did a reasonable job. that said, I kept remarking, that until we really dealt with what cloud meant it was really hard to have a proper discussion. As This was still left unresolved and I fear, partly as a result, the majority of the audience were left still confused and possibly, in a slightly worse state of panic, given they have a CEO breathing down their neck some where and they were due to go into the office the next day, no closer to having an explanation of what cloud is and where they can get one for that’s cheap!

So I’ve thought hard about the next line and in the immortal lines of the hitchhikers guide to galaxy … (or was it Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army:)!)

Don't Panic!

For the event, Dan Scarfe, CEO of DotNet Solutions and I were asked to write a paper on moving to cloud that I think starts to give some guidance on looking at this space. this’ll be on their website shortly I hope and up on a Microsoft page too. In it we provide a definition of cloud based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology, but for me the classification model that I allude to above by using SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, I think is useful to have in your mind when getting you bearings in the cloud space: