Entering the Cloud Era, it’s a word for me which had little significance less than 3 years ago and now is all that seems to be pitched by technology companies. The giants such as Amazon and Microsoft Azure are the clear trail blazers here but why?
For a start Amazons business model is so adaptable it is the clear choice for start-ups who do not want to invest in compute\network\storage and prefer to have a pay as you go scheme. Interestingly the amount of customers I visit where by their developers use Amazon Web Services is quite interesting especially when I ask the question in a meeting and the answer turns out to be “yes”. You then see minds working over time, “cloud, is it safe? how much data do we have there? how much is it costing?”. This is the point with Cloud, it is great and the technology allows us to clearly be elastic. The old days of having to build more infrastructure are gone and this means that anyone can develop, run, and analyze their business using a variety of platforms as a service on offer.
One conversation and discussion point I have is “how do you keep costs down” this may not be an issue for large enterprises, but what if you are offering free services such as Flip Board? You don’t want to get in the situation where you have large amounts of machines running consuming resources and in turn you are getting big bills through your door. The cloud is great but like anything it needs to be planned correctly. We seem to have lost our way a little here in the sense that we have all these options but because its automated and next to no fuss we feel that it requires no planning?!
Well the simple fact is that it does and people are starting to wake up to this now. There are many ways to do this such as reserved instances instead of on demand as the cost model is different and when used effectively it is much more beneficial.
The next big sticking point of the cloud for many people is what do they send to the cloud? It is interesting that most enterprises have now begun to lock down sync and share applications. This is because quite simply people have denied that their customers have been using things like Google Drive and Drop box for too long now and they are slowly realizing that they need to control this. How much sensitive data could leave their organisation is quite worrying especially when people find out that in the T&C’s of Drop box they are permitted to look at your data, do analysis on it and when it is on their storage it is theirs! Scary! I personally am a little saddened by this as I really like the sync and share it is such a simple rather old school idea that has become a joy to use and moved people away from relying on email. Email is in every company a massive share of files that can span out of control and simply sending a cloud drive link is so much neater, simpler and cheaper!
On the plus side these sync and share applications have really been driven by the hand-held market with tablets and smart phones but this has spawned new companies and opportunities. Companies that can put corporate policies on your tablets and phones such as Zenprise, giving the control back to IT.
But the root of these AWS web services and drop box is that they are so easy to obtain, very little red tape and when used correctly they are extremely cost-effective. This compared to going to your IT department, requesting a service/technology, waiting for endless approvals, finally get it weeks if not months later. Any wonder why people use this? It does to me feel like IT restrict everything I do, and it frustrates me beyond belief, yet I can always find a way around it and get what I need done, but my mind tells me I should not have to do this!
The one aspect for me that remains is security, there are so many security concerns but you watch. I liken this analogy to cliff diving, everyone waits until one jumps first and its safe then they can all follow! As soon as someone in the financial or government decides to fully embrace this then everyone will follow!
To sum up, Cloud is here, accept it, we use it everyday in our lives and it is only getting bigger and smarter and personally I am pleased with this as it opens up technology more in to our lives and brings us racing towards the information and screen led society we will eventually become. Software is becoming smarter and more usable by the day and it will soon interface with our lives seamlessly and will probably run in the cloud.