Feeds

Trevor Pott's guide to pricing up the cloud

Does scale equal less cost?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Vendor scale

Elsewhere in The Register Cloud Channel we write about risk, compliance and security issues ( - for instance). Here we simply record the argument that scale economies enable vendors to deliver service improvements in these three areas.

Over to Reg reader 'richard.cohn', who points out:

"Looking at "Software As A Service"-Style cloud vendors like Salesforce and Google (apps), they do indeed have quite strong incentives (read: funding, staffing) to "do security properly". Security is part of their "core business" and not just part of that "support function IT".

A single highly competent (read: expensive) security expert can secure millions of Salesforce users, while an inhouse-system will never get that attention."

Note, that vendor scale does not necessarily translate into lower costs for customers here, but that surely is a secondary consideration.

Platform as a Service

PaaS is a booming cloud offering targeted at developers. A PaaS provider offers up APIs allowing applications to transparently tap into feature sets, redundancy and sheer scale developers would otherwise be unable to front. A small developer can go from “my first smartphone app” to a SaaS offering living in a dozen data centres around the world overnight.

Software development studios will find the greatest benefit here; building their offerings on top of a PaaS stack is a quick route to marketing a reliable SaaS application. Developers only have to focus on the code; everything else is taken care of for them.

End users benefit from PaaS offerings as well. SaaS on PaaS applications are more robust, reliable and scalable than SaaS on custom infrastructure. SaaS on PaaS also enable small and mid-sized developers to provide higher quality application at a lower cost than do-it-yourself options.

The downside is lock-in; a trap developers and end users alike are justifiably terrified of. Once your application has been coded to the API of a specific PaaS provider, porting it can be very difficult. Should that PaaS provider alter their terms of service in an unacceptable manner, fail to deliver on their SLA or go bankrupt, the developer and all their clients are out of luck.

Workarounds are beginning to emerge; the Eucalyptus project famously enjoys close compatibility with Amazon’s APIs. Windows Azure, Microsoft’s PaaS, is also interestingly positioned. Other vendors offer projects which are designed to allow multiple providers to create offerings based on a common API. Hope for future interoperability is also present amongst the various cross-provider cloud API projects.

Conclusion

This as-a-service model is an important shift in how outsourced IT services are marketed. Admittedly, there are some basic differences with the outsourced services of yesteryear, especially in pricing models, but at their heart, most cloud computing services are outsourced services.

And at a minimum, each service outsourced increases administrative overhead. The latest trend in IT outsourcing – the hosted cloud – also offers up questions about SLAs, portability, privacy and ownership of data.

Despite this, I remain optimistic. Internal clouds have already demonstrated their value. The major kinks have been worked out, the ROI proposition is clear. The hosted cloud offers the possibility of spending less time with maintenance. If it can deliver, then the opportunity exists - with the right services-split - to greatly reduce the workload of existing staff. ®

Trevor Pott is a sysadmin, based in Edmonton, Canada

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.