Cloud? Genuinely new or just a better level of efficiency

There has been a while since I last posted, on this blog but I would like to write my thoughts about this Cloud thing that has been buzzing the IT industry.

Recenlty, I watched two meetings/presentations held by Microsoft and Oracle. In both meetings there was this word, the cloud, that came up all the time. Both presentations, presented the cloud as the same in theory, but what the were actually proposing was entirely different, mostly because both companies were using the “cloud” as a marketing scheme for their products.

For me cloud is a buzz world that every one wants to hop on. It is a word that every one wants to somehow put on his product.Seriously, what exactly is new with the cloud? Don’t get me wrong, it will seriously change IT, but is it really something new? or is it just a better and more efficient way of existing services?

From the time I remember stuff about computers, there have been two major marketing efforts for something that it was not new but just better. In both these efforts, marketing succeeded in convincing us about the how much new was the subject beeing marketized, when it was just better or better presented. For technology oriented stuff, such a deception is not common.

The first of these campaigns was Windows95. Is seriously commercialized computers and internet. The second one is Cloud, and it seriously wants to “revolutionalize” our retalionship with data, if it hasn’t already been done by Google. Along with Cloud come three acronyms, SasS, PasS and IasS.

Isn’t the e-mail a basically a software endpoint provided to us from a remote provider? Isn’t hosting basically a platform service? Seriously, what is so new about the cloud that we have created around 37 definitions of it, as mentioned both by Microsoft and Oracle representatives? Is the SasS, PassS and IasS provided by datacenters better? Definitely, a hell of a lot better. Is it new? For me deffinetly no and there is a huge difference in this.

What was seriously new in this story? Virtualization! Well not exactly in this story, but virtualization was the technological condition that raises the efficiency of the previous mentioned services to another level. The difference is so significant, that the entire change can summarize the Cloud.

One category that prooves my point is the g-cloud or private cloud. However you look at it, it is still a datacenter. Banks and other large organizations have them for years. New technology, both software and hardware allow the more efficient utilization of the power, measured in flops, bytes and Watts. That doesn’t change the fact that it is still a datacenter. Is just has a management console that governs these resources dynamically and at will, thus more efficient. I’m not saying that is not huge. It is, but besides the virtualization driving all this wonderfull things, there is really nothing new.

For me the cloud is an immensly efficient way of providing it products as a service to a global market, both in the form ofhardware and software. There is nothing new as a product, rather it is now possible to marketize it at this scale.

For example, the presentation at Microsoft was reallly consumed around G-Cloud for the Greek government and how can Microsoft provide their knowhow from their Azure Datacenters as a service to the Greek Goverment. The Oracle’s presentation,  should have been better named Exa-something, because it was really a presentation about the Exadata and Exalogic platforms, and how you can use them for your private cloud. Public cloud, as Amazon,Google, Azure services were mentioned, only in order to provide validity to the attachment of the cloud world to these exa-products.

If someone should talk about the cloud, it should just be about public clouds, because private clouds are just more efficient databases still on premises. The public cloud, is something that can change how software, which is my area of exprertise can be sold and marketized. I will not talk about the benefits, such as cost or time to market, because everyone basically knows about them, but I will talk about a basic concern that I have, that nobody talks about. My concern is ethnical borders even in electronic data and the power that comes from its centralization.

If it is not understood until now, I’m a Greek citizen and live in Greece. Greece as many other counties does not have a cloud like datacenter, even of foreign ownership. If I was a US based company and chose to store my data and applications on a US based datacenter, besides security, networking and cost there would be nothing else to worry about. But for Greece it is different. Like it or not, there are countries and every country looks for some kind of advantage. Country and ethnic relations are not always stable, as history shows even with years scale. For example, if I was an owner of a Greek company, would I choose to store the entire value of my company, that is my data, on a Turkished based cloud provider? Would I choose to place my assets in a country or union that does not look at my country very friendly?

I do not want to get politicall, but network connection to a datacenter outside your countries borders is very liable. It can change for many reasons. A country can block all Ips originating from as specific country as a aggresion act or just as easily a country can block all outbound trafic to foreighn countries as move to control its population. Wars do not happen easily, but blackmails and hard bargains between countries do. It is just like wondering whether  it is wise to base your entire economy to a single source that is not yours to control. For example oil dependense.

On promises infrstracture can fail for various reasons. A cloud based datacenter, theoritically provides safety on these issues. But, if you are a non US company, wouldn’t you like to have those assets elsewhere, preferably in your country? But isn’t that contradictive to security and cost? Bottom line, in the worst case scenario it is up to you to fix the problem. The huge difference is that you assets are at your disposal.

I’m sure that many bussiness man will think just the profit and choose to take the risk. It is not something new, and history prooves that when money is involved all other just disapper. I’m referencing US datacenters despite the fact that are also non US located ones. But, if someone should look at the geographical locations of Azure datacenters, he will understand the difference between a US and non US intersts company.

As a citizen, I do not agree but my job as professional software engineer doesn’t really change whether the installation is located on the next room or somewhere in another country. Microsoft has done an excelent job with Azure, with giving the ability to produce products that can mostly ran on both enviroments.

Personally I think that cloud based installations will blossom, and I can perfectly understand that. I was to provide a not critical application as a web service, I would defenitly choose the Azure, since I am .net affiliated. The benefits are overwhelming, especially when this service would not define my survival, in case of thing going wrong. If a customer asks for my advice, I would still give an advice based on the advantages and disadvantages.

Bottom line it is the customers choice as a strategic design and I choose to support both ways regardless.


One comment

  1. Pingback: The Future of Hardware and Software in the IT industry. « Developing with Microsoft

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