This week I signed up for Amazon’s cloud services, it is really easy! I haven’t signed up for any other public cloud services, so I can only speak here of the Amazon experience. Within minutes I had a full functioning cloud infrastructure with virtual machines, databases, load balancing and auto scaling. I had an exact price of what it will cost me, with the ability to factor in growth cost, and options available for growing and scaling.
What I found most useful was the availability of software templates. With a few clicks you have the environment needed for running Drupal, or host a Facebook app. The resources needed are calculated for you and it is really as easy as a few clicks. I was reminded of the time I’ve spend on a customer site where it took me almost a week to get a virtual machine to use. Had to do a lot of paperwork, authorizations and even meetings on how and why I want a virtual machine.
This represents a new way of looking at the IT infrastructure. It does not matter on which hardware you are working, the public cloud provider must make sure it is working. You can run any software or operating system you wish, but even that does not have to be a big decision, as the template you choose will implement this for you. This is moving away from the vendor orientated solution towards a functionality orientated solution. Finally the user can focus on what the solution provides and what functionality they require. I think this is also going to see a growth in the open-source market as cost will be a big driver in cloud computing.
Traditionally open-source solutions have been difficult to setup due to a lack of documentation and necessary recourses. There are a few exceptions to this, but the majority of open-source solutions suffer from a lack of business involvement and marketing people to do documentation that the average user can understand. Now some companies will offer these solutions in templates, which would make the installation and configuration of these solutions a non-issue. These companies will also provide the how-to guides and step-by-step hand holding support that will make them more usable to the average user.
This is all great for the public cloud however, and the millions of small and medium businesses that will use public clouds very successfully. But what bout the big corporates who will use a private cloud. Make no mistake, we will have private clouds, some big corporates will not use public clouds. This is due to legislation and a huge investment in current IT infrastructure. I think the big corporates will settle for a hybrid cloud one day, but will make extensive use of private clouds.
In my view, public cloud companies should become vendors for private clouds. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience in setting up data centres and what not to do. They have the technical ability and skill to create cloud infrastructure and have relationships with vendors already. For big business, it will have the following advantages:
- One vendor: business now has one IT vendor to content with, not a myriad of vendors each vying for a piece of their business. There is one point of contact and one point of failure. Businesses don’t have to worry about the hardware requirements and software requirements that will be the cloud provider’s problem. And because of the relationship the cloud provider has with the vendors, they will probably get better results from the vendors anyway.
- Simpler licensing: your licensing fees and structures and headaches will now be part of the cloud implementation, and will probably be something that the cloud vendor will worry about. Business will have a much better idea of licensing costs and what it will cost them, and the cloud vendor will probably be able to negotiate a much better licensing deal from vendors.
- Cost up-front: now business will know exactly what their infrastructure will cost them. They will have pre-determined prices on functionality and use of the environment. Detailed reports will be available to managers in the organization and they will be able to get a detailed breakdown of costs at any time. This will make budgeting easier and simpler for all involved.
- Standard solutions: you won’t get similar software from different vendors spread throughout the organization. Standardization on specific solutions will be easy to implement and won’t be a moving target anymore. Integration between different solutions will now also be part of the template build, and won’t cause sleepless nights for the IT people anymore.
- IT department can focus on IT: it won’t be a moving target anymore. Less time will be spending on support and implementation of new technologies. Upgrades will be handled by the cloud provider in the background. IT can focus on IT; supporting the end-user and making sure that the organization is best serve by technology.
This is just some of the advantages I can think of for now. I’m sure there might be many more. But for me, public cloud providers should consider the move to become cloud vendors very seriously. It will boost the cloud movement considerably, and will enhance capabilities of big organizations immensely. As I said, there will be a public, private and hybrid cloud. This way the public cloud pioneers can also cash in on the private cloud and move IT forward in the direction it is suppose to go.