Certifiable in the Cloud Arrow to Content

January 13, 2011 | 1 Comment

Author: Pamela Fusco, VP of Industry Solutions for Solutionary

Cloud computing remains as much a mystery to some as it is a part of others’ daily lexicon. I spend a lot of time working with people who have connections to various offices of the U.S. government and I find that regardless of the topic, or the background of the person I’m speaking with, one thing that consistently works when I’m discussing something like cloud services with an audience that may not be too familiar with it, is to start with an analogy.

Are you ready for my big Cloud computing analogy? Here it is: PIZZA!

Now, you might be wondering what pizza has to do with cloud computing?  Simply put, the passion for pizza is internationally recognized. With the exception of a few minor recipe tweaks here or there, the process for making it is well-known and all of the major “systems” we need to make it (ovens, stoves, etc.) are there for anyone to access.

But the funny thing about making pizza, is that as simple as it seems, not everyone can make good pizza and unless you’re making four or five pizzas at a time, you end up with a lot of wasted food (half salami, bunches of veggies, etc.). So for those of us who simply don’t have the time, or desire to do it ourselves, we order out. And that has fueled this multi-billion dollar pizza industry.

So taking pizza to the cloud–organizations have already figured out that the ROI for “at home” cloud computing (i.e., pizza making) is not as impressive as the ROI you benefit from when buying from someone who is already in the business of delivering cloud services.

No great mystery here really, right? But let’s get a bit more complicated because cloud computing is just the beginning. Sure, an organization might initially look at cloud computing as a way to realize cost savings over maintain data centers, but there’s so much more to it than that and that’s where you have to be careful.

History is an excellent indication of what our future holds. In fact, many believe that in order to understand our future, we must first understand our past. And that couldn’t be truer when it comes to risk mitigation and compliance in a virtualized cloud environment. If we take a look back at how applications have been delivered in the past, we have to also recognize the issues that have presented themselves with regards to risk mitigation and compliance. And just as unauthorized mainframe access was a problem way back then, the availability of our data when it’s “in the cloud” is a concern for organizations today.

All industries are under substantial oversight and regulation—from the FDA to PCI DSS—and requirements for these industries are ever changing. When operating with constantly changing requirements, basic standards and processes are core to the success of the operation and are usually “baked in” at some level within the data services you’re purchasing. But what happens when you want to try something different; more toppings perhaps, or maybe you’re hosting a get together and your on-demand needs have doubled?  If you’re with an experienced cloud servicers provider, then you probably won’t hesitate to place your custom order and add more products, because you trust the service and you are confident that what you receive will be “business as usual” and you will get your products as you need them.

This is all possible through experience. Your local pizzeria knows how to produce their products, scale their product to meet demand, and deliver services to support point in time needs and requirements. Heck, they probably even offer a “30 minute” service delivery guarantee (a.k.a. SLA).  Service providers, from infrastructure to software, must know their business and the business requirements of their clients, but they must also invest in R&D and innovation to ensure client retention, increase client base, and maintain compliance with regulatory statutes.  If they ignore any of these aspects, history will repeat itself.

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Comments:

  1. Christopher
    01.13.11

    Interesting analogy. There’s no doubt that you can get a pizza made and delivered for far less money and effort than what it costs to do it yourself. Pizza as a service (PaaS) indeed.

    However, what you lose is control and visibility on how your pizza is made. When you make it at home, you know and control every ingredient that went into the pizza. The pizza can be tailored for your specific needs. Try asking the pizza chains for a gluten-free pizza, or one without MSG. And try not to think about what might have been done to the pizza before you got it.

    In the computing world, if your business is fine with what the provider is offering, great. If not, well, you might loose out on competitive advantage. Just ask the SaaS and PaaS providers why they’re building datacenters instead of using IaaS providers.

    And while it’s true that there are efforts such as CloudAudit to improve cloud computing transparency, there doesn’t seem to be much uptake on the idea by providers so far.

    Cloud computing certainly has its use, as long as we keep in mind that it’s a fast food diet.

    - Christopher

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