Cloud Computing

Smita Sharma (UAE) - The False Cloud: Moving Beyond the Buzzwords

Cloud computing is at risk of losing its meaning and becoming a mere marketing buzzword: almost every supplier now has miraculously re-invented their product into a "cloud" offering. But beyond the packaging and the nice cloud logos, is this a genuine mass migration to the new platform? Or are we witnessing the birth of the "false cloud"?

We at Cloud Concept live by a simple litmus test: true cloud computing is efficient, economical, and democratic.

Efficient: With a true cloud infrastructure, scalability is not an issue. The utilization rate of top companies is 20-30%, which is many times lower than that of the cloud. As Selipsky, from Amazon Web Services said,  "The cloud is shapeless. But if it has a tight box around it, it no longer feels very cloud-like." How well you utilize the infrastructure is a key economic driver because if you have high utilization, you can buy fewer servers to serve the same load. You don't get the 3 % efficiency if you are still buying servers and software. If you are not sharing servers, where is your efficiency?

Economical: Companies often struggle to measure the infrastructure costs. A true cloud eliminates capital expenditure, allows you to pay for what you use, allows you to scale up or down with true elasticity, and makes it possible to provision servers in minutes. So-called private clouds come with drawbacks that do not make it economical anymore: customers still incur the capital expenditure and end up with an infrastructure that is not truly elastic.

Democratic: In a true cloud environment, service providers make available the same features, the same uptime guarantees, and same security provisions to customers small and big.

Here is the litmus test for telling if you are dealing with a false cloud:
• Are you paying for updates to your applications?
• Are you paying for maintenance?

If you answered "yes" to any one of the questions, you are probably living on a false cloud.

Multi-tenancy and pay-as-you-go are the fundamental features that make cloud computing an economy of scale. With multi-tenancy, you effectively use the same application and database instance as all other customers of the service provider, not different copies of the application or database. For example, salesforce.com has over 80 thousand paying customers and 2 million individual users. In the old model, each of those customers would need their own application and database stack, so probably around 100 thousand servers or more would be needed to serve all customers. Salesforce.com is able to serve all those customers with no more than a few thousand servers, across three global data centers, including disaster recovery and backup. That is the efficiency of the multi-tenant software, elasticity and sharing and that is the real cloud.


Smita Sharma is the Head of Customer Success at Cloud Concept. Cloud Concept is a Registered Consulting Partner for salesforce.com, Google Apps Authorized Reseller, and official Amazon Web Services Solution Provider.



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