Cloud Computing: Future Shock

By Jack Santos  |  Posted 2008-11-11 Print this article Print

Unrestrained build-out of corporate data centers is unsustainable. Cloud computing offers an alternative. Cloud computing sits at the intersection of outsourcing, utility computing and SaaS.

Cloud computing is one of those inherent, ingrained “future shock”-like trends that is happening whether we recognize it or not and whether we like it or not. That’s the definition of inevitability. A CIO’s job is to determine what works in his or her business for cloud delivery or owned delivery, based on risk, security and the ability to meet business goals.

Discussions about the impact of cloud computing frequently center on services—software as a service, infrastructure as a service, everything as a service. The “there’s-never-anything-new-under-the-sun” camp points to similar conversations from bygone years about Centrex versus buying a PBX, ADP versus hiring a payroll clerk, etc. The same decision criteria pertain: availability, security, trust and control.

As cloud computing grows, some say IT as a competitive differentiator for a corporation won’t matter as much. In fact, it will matter as much as the building maintenance job matters—which is actually quite a lot.

At a recent meeting, I heard a CIO proclaim, “I want to eliminate the data center altogether.” Determining whether this is feasible or without risk leads to a host of other questions. For example, have the security and availability concerns with cloud computing been dealt with effectively? 

Despite these questions and concerns, the message is clear: Unrestrained build-out of corporate data centers is unsustainable and is causing executives to look for more efficient solutions. Virtualization solves some of this problem; cloud computing offers an alternative.

One of my colleagues at the Burton Group, Vice President and Research Director Drue Reeves, takes cloud formation to another level when he thinks about its potential. He feels that a virtual cloud data center is one where the IT workload administrator leases computing infrastructure from cloud vendor A, storage from vendor B and the network from vendor C.

A hybrid data center, which has a combination of internally and externally managed solutions, will require careful architecture to ensure functional, secure and scalable solutions. Over time, resources will move from one domain to another, transparent to the business consumers of those resources. As a result, cloud computing sits at the intersection of outsourcing, utility computing and SaaS.

Computers began having an impact on businesses 40 years ago, and they’ve had an amazing run. But the next 40 years will make those advances look like child’s play. Is your business ready? Are you? 

Jack Santos is CIO Executive Strategist with The Burton Group’s Executive Advisory Service, a Utah-based technology analysts firm, and a former CIO of several large enterprises.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.