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Cloud Pontification

By John | March 15, 2008

James Governor of Redmonk wrote a blog article called “15 Ways to Tell Its Not Cloud Computing” and as much as I like these guys I believe his article was way off the mark. First off as I have been saying, some cloud definitions need to be drawn before you talk about clouds otherwise the definitions can be be all over the board. First of there are three kinds of clouds and when you are talking about a cloud technology you need to be specific.

Hopefully he won’t be upset with my corrections and I hope he is just trying to start the cloud conversation moving like a great analyst should.

Here are my comments to his highlighted ones:

If you peel back the label and its says “Grid” or “OGSA” underneath… its not a cloud.

Wrong… 3Tera is a cloud and it is based on a grid like architecture.

If you need to send a 40 page requirements document to the vendor then… it is not cloud.

Wrong again… (research enterprise use of the clouds), Clouds are not mystical “Big Switch” type items yet.

If you can’t buy it on your personal credit card… it is not a cloud

Wrong again. What kind of cloud computing are you talking about? Desktop only.

If they are trying to sell you hardware… its not a cloud.


If there is no API… its not a cloud.

Here again, specifics. Mosso is a server cloud and there is no API’s required. Not all clouds are Amazon’s EC2 based.

If you need to rearchitect your systems for it… Its not a cloud.

This is true in the ideal. However there is only one cloud server provider that allows this currently (3Tera). All the leaders Amazon, Mosso, Rightscale, and Flexiscale, require some sort of rearchitecture/re-design to use their service.

If it takes more than ten minutes to provision… its not a cloud.

Actually this number is more like 2 minutes. In fact some of the cloud providers say their customers can provision in sub-minute. However in a true cloud server environment there should be no concept of ongoing provisioning and de-provisioning. It’s all autonomics. Systems get added as needed by the system and they get subtracted as needed by automated system.

If you can’t deprovision in less than ten minutes… its not a cloud.

True but you have it wrong its’ not provisioning its elasticity. There is a big difference.

If you know where the machines are… its not a cloud.

If who knows? The sysadmin = not true, the customer = maybe. The service requestor = true.

If there is a consultant in the room… its not a cloud.

Dead wrong. Cloud technology is not magic. Applications will have to be designed and re-architected as needed and there WILL BE A HUGE consulting eco system around cloud technology. If you look at Rightscale a lot of there business is helping developers create new cloud based applications. Enterprises will need a lot of help moving them to cloud server technology. I spoke to a guy just yesterday who is based in Atlanta and he is building automated call distribution systems w/Asterisk and he needs all the cloud server help he can get.

If you need to specify the number of machines you want upfront… its not a cloud.

You will always have to defined a baseline number of machines for a service. In a real cloud server environment users will start with a set of machines for a service and use autonomics to increase or decrease as needed.

If it only runs one operating system… its not a cloud.

Why do you care? In a true cloud (any type) the operating system has no meaning.

If you can’t connect to it from your own machine… its not a cloud.

What kind of could are you talking about (Desktop, Database or Server). You basically don’t connect to database or server clouds. There simply is no connection its just a service. If you are talking about control panel access for administration that is a different item.

If you need to install software to use it… its not a cloud.

Wrong. Clouds are just platforms. You are going to always be adding new applications. A perfect cloud is an abstraction layer from the hardware and the underlying operating system. However the service will always need care and feeding.

If you own all the hardware… its not a cloud.

Wrong (see 3tera). Ownership of cloud hardware is going to be a grey area as adoption rates rise. There will be eco systems of providers and the ownership of the hardware will be immaterial. There are a log of enterprise initiatives happing right now where the customer is acquiring their own hardware and the are running a grid that is, yes Virginia a cloud.

Topics: 3tera, amazon, autonomic, aws, blue cloud, cloud computing, ec2, grid, mosso, other, rackspace, rightscale, the big switch, thebigswitch, utility cloud computing | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Cloud Pontification”

  1. BXL Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Very good analysis.

    “If you need to rearchitect your systems for it… Its not a cloud.”

    3tera re quires no architectural changes nor code changes.

  2. John Says:
    March 16th, 2008 at 3:24 am

    I know I sound like a 3Tera junkie however, the brilliant thing about their architecture is you can just pick up the complete service (multiple servers) and move it to another cloud. Rightscale has a similar architecture and if/when they allow their templates to run on multiple cloud providers they will be in a class of two along with 3Tera.

  3. alexis Says:
    March 17th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    The ability to move across clouds is fundamental and has consequences for the services offered. I believe cloud vendors who do not enforce lock-in will do well here.

  4. John Says:
    March 17th, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I totally agree. If you look at the template based vendors (3Tera and Rightscale) this is where the separation of the service starts to appear in cloud technology. The cluster of different images become one portable image that can be moved between clouds.

    If you guys can pull of an rPath kind of thing for something like that I will quit my job and come to work for you guys right now.


  5. John Says:
    March 17th, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Wait a minute… I don’t have a job…

  6. Bert Armijo Says:
    March 17th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Alexis -

    That’s the understatement of the day. From first hand experience, I can tell you that once users experience the freedom of mobility there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.

  7. Techworld Says:
    August 13th, 2009 at 6:10 am

    [...] diskwalificaties voor het label ‘Cloud’ op een project. Je kunt er zeker over twisten (hier is flink wat kritiek van een andere blogger te lezen), maar het is tenminste wel [...]