Let me start by saying I still believe we are just talking about Virtualization but to keep this simple we will use the marketing term “Cloud Computing”!
With the announcement from Apple that they are entering the world of Cloud services, looks like we now have all of the key players offering cloud services and as I think about it we can do just about anything in the cloud. Yes Nathan, fair enough … but why write about a topic which is one of the most talked about subjects in the technology industry today? Well the reason is the developments in virtualization to deliver Cloud Computing is on the verge of creating significant divergence of technology, as every vendor, provider and SI attempts to make ground in this space. Someone recently described to me the Cloud Computing landscape as a “Cloud Universe”, a complex mix of platforms serving different requirements and very much like our space programs seeking another “Earth” so will it be for Cloud Compute providers. Trying to find that elusive partner with whom you can bridge your platform to provide businesses with a hybrid platform across Private and public whilst leveraging your specialization.
I know there will be many providers and vendors thinking that this is not the case that there are only a handful of components to the platform and that you can probably count the key modules on two hands. That’s fair, however let me give you another analogy, consider building a house out of Lego bricks, you have 10 different colour bricks, and that as a minimum one wall must be a different colour from the others (given the fact we have not seen a single block which provides all cloud compute requirements – today at least), now consider how many different ways you could build that house. This is the same challenge we have with cloud computing with a large number of permutations of cloud computing and the number expected to continue to grow our focus needs to not be on driving singular standards of cloud computing but actually on the ability to build interoperability interfaces between the different platforms.
I can already hear people asking why that is important, well consider a business’s processes within their business, take specifically their supply chain process, some aspects of this process such as the financial elements are critical and therefore must be secure and therefore in a private cloud, others such as those for ordering and tracking systems are more likely to be partially public for access an interface but information on other vendors or distributors must be private and then finally providing access to products and offering for customers whether that be software or a service catalogue, this must be able to scale to meet the demands of the customer at any given point in time and accessible to all through a multitude of devices, hence public. Of course we could design a Cloud Compute Platform that achieves all of this for a Supply Chain process, but then how do we engage the banking system for transactions or the distribution company who will have their own system?
It is this complexity in process, choice and type of business that is driving the development of cloud compute platforms to meet specific requirements, it is also the reason we are facing a cloud universe. I am very excited about the market developments and innovation happening in Cloud Computing and I am sure we will continue to hear new services being launched and partnerships being formed in years to come, but I would urge cloud providers to also think about the interfaces they are building to be able to offer cross cloud services, therefore remaining focused on solving the customer’s requirements end to end as opposed to driving businesses to build their own interconnects with a multitude of Cloud capabilities.
I leave you with one final thought, remember when you had to choose between Beta and VHS from the Video store, and your choice of movie was limited by the one that your system could run, yes eventually VHS won out, but with Cloud computing we are talking about having more than a 1,000 variations of VHS or Beta, do we really know who would win that race, or should we just develop a universal Video Player or in this case Cloud Compute framework that can talk to all and therefore leverage the unique strengths of each cloud offering?