Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cloud Evolution

Dion Hinchcliffe posted an excellent article about the current state of Cloud Computing.

Interesting to see the evolution of this new service evolve and generate the agility that companies want from their IT infrastructure. I am curious to see who the big players in this arena will be in one or two years from now… Amazon, EMC, IBM? Somebody completely unknown today?

As soon as the market agrees on standards, the fight for market share will start and we will see a huge amount of investments being made… increasing competition will then put pressure on prices, playing into the hands of consumers.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Governance in the Cloud – who and how?

image One one side it is very attractive to put data and processing into the cloud and avoid the costs and problems of up- (and down-) scaling of the own IT. But there are some questions that need to be asked (and solved….) before mission critical data and functionality can be moved outside a controllable environment:


  • Who guarantees Data Security (and how)?
  • How are SLAs controlled and enforced?
  • Which law (i.e. which country) will apply?
  • Who will make sure the law is enforced (and how)?
  • What happens if the provider goes insolvent?
  • What if the provider is acquired (and HQ moves to a different country)?

As technology moves much faster than regulations and laws, there is a lot of uncertainty involved at the moment. As long as my datacenter resides in Germany, German law will apply and the CTO is (kind of) responsible for the compliance to the respective regulations. Even if the IT is outsourced, the company providing the hosting services is responsible and can be sued. In a Cloud Computing scenario, my data is theoretically distributed all over the world, which brings up the question which law applies and who is responsible for it.

Some of the data might reside in China or India while it is processed in Europe or North America. What if a country changes laws unexpected or the company providing the cloud services is acquired or insolvent? The missing control could easily bring a business down when relying on cloud services that do not deliver anymore or when mission critical data is inaccessible for a longer period.

Outages of Amazons Cloud Services or Google showed that this scenario is not so unrealistic and the risk is rather high. But what to do when cost reductions do not leave any other option other than Cloud Computing? What rights and possibilities do people and companies have if the provider of cloud services abuses my data? How would I even know where my data is and how I can get access to it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cloud Computing is the new Grid Computing?

Comparing the idea of Grid computing to the new Buzzword “Cloud Computing” shows that - while the basic idea is the same - there are major differences in the two concepts.

One difference is obviously the intended usage. Grid Computing was planned for (single) applications with high demand in processing power while the idea of Could Computing is using such a grid on an internet scale to balance the load of many applications running in parallel.

This requires virtualization in order to provide the sandbox for each application:


Virtual Appliances are ready-to-run software packages that are pre configured on a virtual OS (or multiple ones), delivering a quick and easy to use solution for a certain part of the business. In my eyes, this is very appealing to all kinds (and all sizes) of corporations that do not want to go through the hassle of installing a local IT and facing problems when their business is growing (or shrinking) fast…

The main differentiator to SaaS is the Multi-Instance vs. Multitenancy. The control over a SaaS delivered platform is limited, while a virtual appliance allows full control in the VM boundaries.

Let’s hope that the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVM) will establish a standard that allows to create portable VMs that can move form local IT to the Cloud (and back) if required.

VMWare already introduced a concept called “vApp” that allows to package a set of configured VMs that compose one application and are managed as a unit.


Interesting times ahead…