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The cloud virtualization black hole

Silence is deafening

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Reader Workshop Last week was an interesting one for the virtualization workshop, as we turned our attention to cloud computing and the reaction has been, well, nothing. Well, that's not quite fair – the comment on Virtualization and the cloud was, "Good article. Please, I implore you to add case studies," and on Unravelling the cloud confusion was "Where's the silver lining?"

There's not much we can read into either of these points, other than saying "good idea" to the case studies thing (indeed, we often get these through your own comments, so don't hold back!) – but the overall silence was deafening. It was similar when we asked what came beyond virtualization in a previous week. Now, we don't want to spend too much time hypothesising over what does, in fact, present a gap in our knowledge – though there does seem to be a level of "just don't know" when it comes to thinking where virtualization might lead. It is interesting instead to turn our attention to another article last week about applications/data and the cloud, which did raise a hefty number of comments.

The crux of the responses (which will indicate why this is relevant) was about trust, that is indeed, whether information is any safer in the cloud than in-house. Here's a selection of responses:

Utilising a cloud service as a core business process is idiotic in the highest degree. It is just plain stupid on so many levels.
I don't trust the cloud solution - I much prefer to have it all where I can keep my finger on it.
Storing normal information on the cloud is in itself a dangerous prospect, but when you realise the majority of companies process personal data of one sort or another it becomes clear just what a compliance nightmare this really is.

It's interesting to keep this perspective in mind when we look at virtualization and the cloud. Yes, sure, the virtual machine does offer a portable bucket in which applications could run, and indeed, this bucket could notionally exist anywhere that there is accessible processor capacity. But just because it can, doesn't mean it should. Why not? There are some pretty fundamental data protection issues for a start – which are only just starting to be talked about, never mind tested in the courts. Indeed, some of the comments were questioning whether cloud-based services were in fact legal under data privacy law in some jusrisdictions.

There are also questions over the longetivity and stability of some of the newer kids on the block. And finally of course, the cloud model remains largely unproven – though hosting has been around for years, the wholesale handover of IT to what remains a series of unknown quantities would be as foolish as... oh wait a minute, that's happened before hasn't it?

Cloud computing may offer a whole bunch of benefits over existing kit, but it doesn't appear that anybody is rushing to get to the front of the stage. Perhaps this one comment says it all:

I wouldn't want to be a test case, I'd take the wait-and-watch approach for others to set precedent whilst waiting for my current tin architecture to die by attrition, just for a few more years...

In all honesty, is it any wonder that many are just getting on with things, and waiting to see what happens? After all, it's not that IT staffers are idly looking for extra things to do with their time.

Perhaps the silence shouldn't be so unexpected after all.

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