A few weeks ago, I traveled to San Jose, CA, where I attended the “Cloud Connect” conference. Cloud Connect is basically an annual symposium where the biggest players in the cloud industry gather together to talk about what’s coming next for the Cloud. Analysts opine, accountants report, Fortune 500 CTOs brag, consultants take notes, and those of us who are already deep in the trenches of the virtualized data center industry scratch our heads and wonder how any of this applies to “ordinary” businesses.
In later blog posts, our engineering and operations guys will get into the technical/management nitty-gritty of Cloud hosting. For now, I just want to share the following summary of what I learned at Cloud Connect, which I hope will set the stage for some of their comments:
- Extremely large enterprises are now getting very serious about the cloud. What was a buzz phrase last year has turned into a real storage/processing/hosting option for some of America’s largest companies.
- These companies don’t know how to approach the cloud. Should they go with a “private cloud” — i.e., a virtualized private platform that ensures security, but provides little to no economic benefit? A “hybrid” platform, where they keep certain apps and data behind lock and key, and burst out to the cloud only when necessary? Or should they go whole-hog and move everything to companies like Amazon? Most seem somewhat paralyzed by the choice.
- The real adoption of cloud — even in the Fortune 500 universe — is still very modest.
- Having said that, enough hyper-enterprises have moved into the cloud for industry bean-counters to be able to analyze some real data about computing resource efficiencies at those companies. This data has led analysts to conclude that at the enterprise level, cloud savings are very real, and can be very, very significant.
- There are dozens of clever startups that are trying to turn the generic, SMB-hostile resource platforms offered by today’s cloud companies into more useful products. In my opinion, where these companies are succeeding, they’re offering only partial solutions to huge macro-level problems — and you still have to be an extreme early adopter to make sense of them.
So that’s the story as far as generic cloud services are concerned. Much of the same story applies to companies that are marketing hosting “in the cloud.” For the most part, they’re targeting their services at customers with the ability to take a bare-bones, science-project technology and develop it to meet their specific needs. That means hyper-enterprises with seven-figure IT budgets and early adopters eager to take a whack at a new, unproven platform. If you’re not one of those companies, good luck finding a cloud hosting solution that works for you “right out of the box.”
I’m a marketing guy, so I generally tend to be one of those “glass-is-half-full” people. For now, though, that’s my honest assessment of the current state of the Cloud in general, and Cloud hosting in particular.
Next week in part 2 of our Cloud Series: “From VPS to Cloud? Redefining Hosting” by ServInt CTO Matt Loschert.
Photo by theaucitron