Lost in the Cloud

But Wilber is probably right to take it seriously. The Cloud is made up of hundreds of thousands of components and millions of lines of code. Anyone of which could go wrong and cause disruption in Wilber’s organization.

And then forget about the inconvenience of not having email, file transfer and voice services for a day. What about specific but less visible processes that can affect costs and architectures? Such as standards wars and disputes, security breeches, or catastrophic events such as brown-outs, fires, explosions, etc.?

The Enterprise Network has numerous ways of breaking down and disrupting communications. Wilber has to make sure that enterprise applications running on his internal IT network are up and running 24/7 and if outsourced to the Cloud, that his suppliers are also 24/7.

Enough to give anyone a headache!

Maybe Wilber should just come home, have a beer, put his feet up and watch the Game.

The Cloud, like the Internet, appears to have as many definitions as users. Intel, a key supplier of chip components, uses a fairly broad description; a definition that encompasses infrastructure, platform and software, or a total operating ecosystem.

“cloud computing (is) a highly available computing environment where secure services and data are delivered on-demand to authenticated devices and users utilizing a shared, elastic infrastructure that concurrently supports multiple tenants.”

What distinguishes cloud computing from conventional computing is the shared and multiple user-centric web model. Attributes such as on-demand self-service, network access from anywhere, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured services and sharing by multiple tenants are the main requirements for cloud based offerings.

Because the definition is so broad, Intel also distinguishes three primary categories of cloud computing services;
Infrastructure services (IaaS) such as servers, storage, and network, delivered as a cloud service;
Platform services (PaaS) used to develop and deploy applications; and Software (SaaS) providing hosted services accessed over the Internet.

In fact, it is similar to the Internet, which also has an infrastructure, platform and software environment. Cloud computing uses many of the same web tools and technologies freely available on the internet. Like the Internet, it is made up of many different hardware and software platforms that enable the networking of digital bits and bytes. But as some see it, the increasing commercialization of the internet behind “walled gardens” of proprietary standards will impede innovation.

This seems unlikely.

The competition among proprietary environments for cloud based services will continue to be a spur, not an impediment to innovation. What is developed on one platform, if successful, will be ported to another. Applications developed and tested in the “garage” of the web environment will be adopted for use in enterprise networks.

What is different are the specific claims of openness and interoperability made by the owners of these proprietary standards (IP). Ease of interconnecting is a key issue for people like Wilber. The nature of business and increasing globalisation makes interoperability a necessity, particularly for supply chain or customer service applications.

Apple announced this week that all its Mobile Me and iDisk users will now be moved onto its new iCloud. ICloud services like storage and synching will be free along with an update of Apple’s iOS mobile software, which will be made available through downloads. Those are iPhone users, of which there are many.

The service marks the expansion of Apple’s current proprietary cloud services beyond iTunes, App Store and iBooks.

So getting back to poor frazzled Wilber. It looks as though prospects are brightening. Faced with an unending demand for more services at less cost – more for less – the mantra of business, – he has a number of choices. He is able to select services from any one of a number of competing giants, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, most of which will claim to save his organization money and resources.

But moving to the Cloud is not without its challenges too. If a cloud collapses, as did part of RIMs global network this week, Wilber needs to have a contingency plan in place. He is right to continue taking this cloud thing seriously.