Will Silicon Valley Run Out of Data Center Space?

May 17, 2010 | Leave a Comment

By Wing Ko

This slashdot posting caught my eyes last night – http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/08/12/2227215/Will-Silicon-Valley-Run-Out-of-Data-Center-Space. Judging from the thread, apparently it caught the eyes of quite a few people too.

With all the exciting news and press releases during the dotcom era, most non-IT people thought that all the data centers were in California (and for the few better informed ones, the rest of the data centers were in Virginia). With hotties like Google, eBay, Myspace, and Facebook, I think, now, even many IT people thought that all the data centers, computing and people power are in CA. No doubt, many data centers and talented people are in CA, particularly Silicon Valley and its surrounding areas. And the world’s computing needs has just begun. But to say that it may run out of data center space? That’s pretty far-fetch. Or was it?

Last summer when I was in the Silicon Valley area, there were plenty of vacant offices and buildings, courtesy of the dotbomb. I checked with folks recently, and it’s still the same way if not worst, due to the (Great) Recession. So there are plenty of offices, spaces, and even lands for data centers, right? Well, maybe …

Data centers are a little like farms. Growing plants and crops, you’ll need clean/cheap/free water, ample/free sunlight, strong/diverse root systems, rich soil, cheap/free lands, and knowledge of how to grow and care for the plants. Good, money making data centers need cheap/effective cooling (water or air), clean/reliable/cheap (electric) power, big-fat/diverse/cheap network pipes, lands free of natural disasters, cheap lands, and skill/cheap talents.

Silicon Valley is probably not the best place to make money building data centers, and many figured this out a decade ago. The truth is that there are many mega data centers located outside of the West and East coasts, and more build outs continue to happen outside of the coasts, so I don’t think Silicon Valley will run out of data center space any time soon. Besides, with cloud computing, you really shouldn’t be too concern about a particular physical location of your provider’s data center as long as you and your provider have good business continuity plans in place.

One of the neat tricks (advantages) of cloud computing is the pooling and dynamic reassigning of resources as needed. Thus, even in case your provider does run out of space in their Silicon Valley data center, they should be able to transparently move your sites/services someplace else – nice, huh?

Is your Cloud Provider making money?

May 17, 2010 | Leave a Comment

By Jim Reavis

At a recent Cloud Security Alliance event, George Reese moderated a panel about Public/Private cloud interoperability and application portability. It was a great discussion, and I hope to be able to publish the proceedings soon.

One of the common points that comes up when discussing this topic is the subject of cloud provider viability, which is one of the many reasons why we care about the topic. Obviously, you want your application (and data) to be portable if you have concerns about where it is hosted. A question I asked that has been bothering me was, how do you know if your cloud provider is making money? Financial stability is a good indicator of viability.

If the cloud provider in question is a publicly-traded company and is a “pure play” cloud company, their financial performance should be a matter of public record. A privately held company may be more difficult to pin down, but will often provide this information to the right customer. But what about a company that has a significant portfolio of products and services, of which only a few may be cloud-based? Is it easy to decipher the financial reality of a cloud product line? In these heady “cloud rush” days, it is to be expected that many companies will seek market share, and they may do so by offering loss leading products that are not intended to make money. Is it possible that the least expensive IaaS option you seek is a trojan horse to sell additional services, and if so, do you want them?

Personally, I am very interested in understanding the true profit margin (or lack thereof) of the emerging cloud services. Profit is an indicator of corporate strategy, and the cloud provider’s corporate strategy is of the utmost importance to the cloud customer – sometimes that strategy backfires. If you were to pick your 5 favorite cloud services, how much do you know about the profitability of those services?

-Jim (from riskbloggers.com)

Welcome to the CSA Blog

May 17, 2010 | Leave a Comment

By Jim Reavis

Welcome to the Cloud Security Alliance blog. We have initiated this service to allow for more rapid communications between our expert volunteers and the larger community interested in cloud security. We plan to use this venue to comment on the important issues of the day related to our mission, as well as to provide some insights into our research in progress, including version 2 of our guidance, which is schedule for completion in October of 2009.