Cloud Computing and Newton’s third law
Issac Newton’s third law of motion famously stated “to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction”. If one takes a few liberties and applies this to a paradigm shift technology, one could say that every new technology innovation brings about new challenges.
The benefits of cloud computing are quite exciting. It enables companies to achieve greater levels of business agility while reducing TCO. It enables companies to transcend the delays associated with internal silos and gain rapid execution of business objectives. So what’s the downside?
Proformative recently issued a news release entitled “Economics of Cloud Computing Too Compelling to Ignore” which I thought had some interesting findings including the following:
- Cloud Computing and SaaS will be critical to companies over the next few years, and CFOs feel like they are already “behind the curve” and need to be educated,
- Cloud Computing and SaaS reduce IT CapEx and OpEx and create a direct link between IT consumption and cost, and
- Cloud Computing and SaaS have delivered to many firms higher ROI, increased collaboration, and greater confidence in systems and their business value.
I get the sense that the survey was focusing more on the public cloud (SaaS) than on the benefits of applying cloud computing principles to datacenters (private cloud). If CFO’s feel behind the curve on cloud computing I wonder how many CIO’s would respond! There’s still a great deal of uncertainty regarding cloud computing (public and private) and a desire for greater education.
But the point here is in the title — the economics of cloud computing are too compelling to ignore. Without going into detail here (I need to save some material for future posts!) I think its clear that most have recognized that there are profound benefits to cloud computing — even when they aren’t fully understood. So what’s the downside?
The Dark Side of the cloud
So is cloud computing really a silver bullet for both the business and IT or is there more to it? Mark Shoemaker writes on HP’s Grounded in the Cloud blog:
If you think you had problems managing the old physical data centers just wait until you try to keep track of the complexity Cloud computing can generate.
If you were thinking of cloud computing as an easy way of taking all those hairy, non-standard servers you’ve been packing in the data center over the last few years via the wonders of Physical-to-Virtual transformation and shoving them into the cloud, think again. You are still going to need a plan to transform the old stuff but we’ll save that discussion for another time.
Cloud computing is not a silver bullet if you don’t have strong standardization, lifecycle management, service level management, and change and configuration management. Cloud computing doesn’t solve these problems — it may even make them more important to tackle.
The original downside to virtualization was VM sprawl and similar problems that come from an unstructured environment can be a barrier to successful cloud computing as well.
VMware and EMC have recognized this problem and continue to develop products designed to tackle the challenges of cloud computing:
VMware vCloud Director— VMware Lifecycle manager is being discontinued as vCloud Director attempts lifecycle management and application provisioning from a cloud perspective.
vCenter Configuration Manager— Automation of guest OS confgurations and patch levels, including PCI compliance from EMC’s Ionix Family).