That’s cloud computing. But not as we know it, Jim
Reg readers see emptier skies ahead
Reg Reader Workshop Our thanks to the readers who recently took the poll which completed the Register's workshop on "cloud computing". Since the term is a bit of a marketing catch-all, we parsed it into software as a service, utility computing and online platform provision. We further broke down SaaS into generic, vertical and core applications.
We know it's early days to establish what the real benefits of cloud computing will turn out to be, but it is interesting to see what is emerging at the moment. Not surprisingly, the top expected benefit is the ability to scale to peak demands. However, ‘Security’ ranked the lowest likely benefit. Clearly the vendors' claims to be more secure than many internal IT departments are falling on deaf ears. Sharing the bottom rungs of the benefit ladder (less than ten per cent) are 'Ability to integrate' and 'Kinder to the environment'. More messages that aren't getting through.
When it comes to who's likely to be doing what and when, some differences emerged according to organisation size. Overall, it's clear to see significant resistance to cloud anything. At least 40 per cent of respondents say they are unlikely to consider it, ever. This is despite the respondents having a more positive attitude to IT than we usually see. Perhaps this is because over 70 per cent were systems architects/designers, IT managers and business managers.
Splitting the figures by company size, larger companies (over 250 employees) are already using the various flavours of SaaS and utility computing more than smaller organisations. But, to keep this in perspective, we're still only talking about a 32 per cent take-up of the most popular category - SaaS for generic applications - among these larger companies.
The figures contradict what many insiders have been predicting, that cloud services are likely to be very attractive to the smaller organisation. To get from here to there, a lot of work needs to be done to remove the hype and to make the services and their benefits more understandable and accessible to these prospects.
Their challenge is simple: make people like Jim Coleman feel differently. He's a reader who made the following comment on an earlier article (Any clouds in your sky?): "When my ISP's network goes down, I can't do any work. When the Cloud Service Provider's servers go titsup, I can't do any work. When their own ISP goes down, I can't do any work. When their SAN goes haywire and it turns out their backups weren't working, I lose all my data."
We hear you, Jim. Let's hope the vendors do too. ®
"Hands up anyone here who has a bank account. Anyone? ... Is that most of us? Really? So I guess we're all pretty comfortable about allowing specialists and experts in their field to look after our most valuable assets for us..."
Weren't we all the fools to let these banks look after money!!
Actually, the major thing I don't get about this whole Cloud/SaaS world is that you're relying on external internet links to provide transport to/from your mission critical services, but the tubes are getting squeezed and capacity is not as plentiful as even 2 years ago due to Web 2.0 bloat and streaming media, etc...
And yes, dedicated private lines will alleviate this problem, but then doesn't that remove one of the prime reasons of going SaaS - the ability to easily switch providers and to play the competition off between them? And yes, doing that will lead to the board going for the EDS cheap is cheerful route before realising that cheap actually means crap!
Agree to disagree. Agreed :-)
"I'd recommend signing up for a dev account and just testing the waters."
Been there, done that. Even went "live" a couple times, with companies large and small. They wanted it, I needed the money and didn't argue (new water trucks and tractors are EXPENSIVE!). All of 'em had issues, and later payed me to bring it all back in-house.
But hey, if you can make a living at it in this economy, enjoy! Who am I to argue?
Agree to disagree
Fair play, I guess we disagree on this one. All I have to draw on is my own experience; years of designing and developing on-premise solutions which took ages to describe, let alone build, didn't scale easily, needed translating for each new market, took ages to re-design when the next new market turned out to do tax differently... The synchronisation issues, the backups, the integration, the failover planning...
I'm sorry if it sounds wooly and feeble, but doing it all on shared infrastructure that's someone else's headache is incredibly refreshing. Liberating, even. And it's such a joy to deliver in a couple of months a system which, in your previous life, would have taken quite literally orders of magnitude more man-hours to deliver, and which wouldn't have had a hope of lasting as well because they wouldn't scale as seamlessly, or be as flexible or universally available.
It may simply be the latest in a long line of solutions in search of a problem, and it's unlikely to become quite as ubiquitous as the laser, but I wouldn't be quite so quick to dismiss *aaS as "the old mainframe service bureau concept recycled" - there's a little more to it than that.
Since you specialise in rescuing woebegone victims from second-party-solution disasters I can see that you anticipate a beanfeast when the shine comes off the cloud's silver lining (metaphor stretched to breaking point yet?) but, seriously, I don't think I'd recommend holding my breath. SFDC's user count continues to grow apace, and their customer satisfaction rating is consistently high. People love their product! I can't tell you how refreshing it is to train end users and have them enthuse about their new system! Even the sales guys!
Again, I'd recommend signing up for a dev account and just testing the waters. What have you to lose but your preconceptions?
Jeez. I sound like a feckin' Scientologist, don't I? Xenu loves you...