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What constitutes ‘proper’ cloud computing

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Reader Mini-Poll Cloud computing is one of the most talked about topics in the industry at the moment. One of the difficulties, however, is that it is sometimes hard to work out exactly what people mean by it. Different vendors and service providers use the term in relation to some quite different types of offering. Various well-meaning commentators and institutions have then tried to define cloud with a view to creating more clarity, but their different explanations have often just added to the confusion.

Against this background, the concern we have is that the misunderstandings that arise around cloud can sometimes get in the way of people appreciating what is relevant to them or otherwise. The truth is that while there is a lot of hype out there, there are also some interesting developments, and, indeed, some more traditional solutions that have found themselves getting wrapped up in the whole cloud thing.

The bottom line is that when you see something marketed as cloud based this or cloud based that, you really don’t know what that translates to. Sometimes it could be new and relatively unproven bleeding edge stuff, sometimes it could be some pretty well established practices that are totally bullet proof in nature.

So, without getting into all of the theory, we’d like to do a very pragmatic test with the help of Reg readers. What we would like you to do is simply read down the list we have put together below based on some of the offerings we have seen on the market today that have at one time or another been referred to as cloud, and tell us whether you think each really does qualify as cloud computing in your mind. Should only take you few minutes:

READER POLL:

1. Would you regard the following as legitimate examples of cloud computing (as opposed to non-cloud or just business as usual)?


Hosted server infrastructure Yes No Unsure
Bespoke hosted setup, designed/tailored specifically for you needs, annual contract
Managed physical server, dedicated to you, fixed fee per month on contract
Fixed spec virtual server, shared infrastructure, fixed fee per month on contract
Flexible/scalable/elastic virtual server, paid for by resources used, no ongoing obligation
Virtualised pool of physical servers, dedicated to you, fixed fee per month on contract

Other infrastructure based services Yes No Unsure
Web space from ISP, contract with fixed monthly fee based on storage/bandwidth limits
Online storage/backup service, contract with monthly fee based on capacity allocated
Online storage/backup service, paid for by space actually used, no ongoing obligation

Hosted Email/Messaging Yes No Unsure
POP3/Web mail boxes provided as part of a traditional ISP service
Hosted public email services e.g. Hotmail, Google, etc, monthly subscription or ad funded
Hosted MS Exchange or Lotus Domino, fee per user per month, 12 month contract
Hosted MS Exchange or Lotus Domino, month by month fee, no minimum contract
Mobile operator services for routing messages to/from handheld devices
Hosted content filtering (e.g. MessageLabs type services, Web filters, etc)

Hosted Comms, including Web conferencing, VoIP, unified comms, etc Yes No Unsure
Subscription based, ‘all you can eat’ fee per user per month, 12 month contract
Subscription based, ‘all you can eat’ month by month fee, no minimum contract
On demand service, fee per minute consumed, no ongoing obligation

Hosted Business applications, e.g. office tools, CRM, project management, etc) Yes No Unsure
Bespoke hosting of your application, dedicated setup, annual contract
Subscription based, fee per user per month, dedicated instance, 12 month contract
Subscription based, fee per user per month, shared multi-tenancy, 12 month contract
Subscription based, fee per user per month, dedicated instance, no minimum contract
Subscription based, fee per user per month, shared multi-tenancy, no minimum contract
On demand service, fee per resources used, shared multi-tenancy, no ongoing obligation

Other hosted services Yes No Unsure
Public social networking services (Facebook, Linked in, Myspace, Twitter, etc)
Business class social networking/collaboration, fee per user per month, on contract
Business class social networking/collaboration, month by month fee, no minimum contract
Hosted Application development/deployment platform with dynamic resource allocation (PaaS)

On premise solutions Yes No Unsure
Hardware/software clustering solutions
Mainstream server virtualisation solutions (hypervisors and associated tools)
Technology to create/manage virtualised server pools with dynamic resource allocation
Traditional Citrix-style thin client architecture to centralise desktop app execution
Modern desktop virtualisation/VDI solutions
Storage virtualisation solutions for creating flexible pools of storage capacity
The mainframe as a host for dynamic virtualised workloads

2. What attributes or capabilities does an offering need to have to qualify as cloud in your mind?


3. In a nutshell, how would you describe cloud computing?

4. Do you work for an IT supplier?

Yes
No

5. Are you significantly involved in setting IT strategy and direction in your organisation?

Yes
No

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