cloudy expectations

January 7th, 2010 by Sebastian Leave a reply »

As Alessandro Perilli has written in his article [1], parts of the IT industry expect 2010 to be the year of cloud computing (the other parts expect it to be the year of VDI ;-) [2]).So it is time to think about what cloud computing is right now, what it can be and what it is expected to be…


As described in the wikipedia article about cloud computing [3] it is a new concept of delivering computer services to the users. The user doesn’t know about underlying technlogy anymore and just receives applications, number crunching results, computer desktops or virtual machines. The underlying technology itself is driven by so called cloud computing providers, that in general have to install and maintain an IT infrastructure followed by this figure [4].

Cloud Computing Stack

OK – that’s the structure but what will the user get in concrete? Is it software, services or applications? Here is the answer – Today the user can get three different things:

  1. services (oldest) -  Are the oldest form, a good example for that are the heavily discussed DNS services by Google [5][6]. Another example is NTP from the NTP Pool Project [7].
  2. applications – Good examples for that are the GApps (GMail etc.) from Google and Salesforce CRM. In this case the user can use an application delivered by a cloud computing provider – mostly this is done via browser. This is also known as Software as a Service (SaaS).
  3. virtual machines (newest) – That is where the actual hype is coming from. VMware developed some new features with their newest server virtualization product vsphere4 (they also call it the first cloud operating system ;-) ). So in this case the user gets computational power to run his own servers on virtual machines hosted by a cloud computing provider.

So what does that mean for all the different players in the cloud computing game?

Hardware vendors – For them (IBM, HP, DELL and others) the result of cloud computing is, that they will sell less standard servers but more bigger servers. Even if they loose some dollars because of decreasing server sales they will win it back with the sale of storage systems which is raising because of cloud computing (in the sense of point number 3).

Software vendors – It is not clear where the race is going for the software vendors. On the one hand they will sell more operating systems (because cloud computing in the sense of point number 3 tends to deploy more os instances) on the other hand they will sell less applications (because cloud computing in the sense of point number 2 delivers applications more easily and cheaper).

Internet Application Provider – These so called web2.0 companies will definitely grow in the next years. Interesting about that market is, that standard applications (used by almost everybody) are financed by advertisement and applications for smaller groups have to be subscribed for a little fee. I’m excited to see the first applications you are paying for the minutes of usage.

So from that perspective it seems that Apple is the winner of the game because they do Hardware, Software and Internet Applications (although they don’t have a clue about virtualization right now). But we do also know, that Google is developing an OS [8] right now and just brought a phone to market [9]. Furthermore Microsoft is trying to enhance their internet applications as well.

So what is the big problem with Cloud Computing? The Answer: Data Security! As a computer engineer I can tell, that in the moment there are several ways the cloud computing provider can use for crawling the user data which is stored in the cloud computing infrastructure. But if VMware and all the others learn how to provide computational power securely, cloud computing can make the IT infrastructure world more complete. It will not let all the companies close their data centers because nobody will safe their business critical data to storage systems owned and maintained by others.

Cloud Computing is a technology that supports outsourcing strategies. Furthermore it increases the importance of the internet and it probably will flatten the insourcing/outsourcing waves…




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