Monday, October 12, 2009

Not a cloud? Then what is it?

Redmonk are one of those smaller analyst companies who make up for a lack of numbers with a refreshing depth and honesty. James Governor's latest, and I assume light hearted, view of "15 Ways to Tell Its Not Cloud Computing" however does a bit of a disservice to the debate around clouds. Mostly right but with a few glaring pieces I felt I had to disagree with.
  1. If you peel back the label and its says “Grid” or “OGSA” underneath… its not a cloud.
    1. Fair enough if its talk about people selling last years technology with this years sticker but.....
    2. If its a question of doing a deep dive and finding that underneath there is a "Grid" but that you don't care about it then I don't think this discounts it.
  2. If you need to send a 40 page requirements document to the vendor then… it is not cloud.
    1. I'll go with this one... with the caveat of governments can turn anything into 40 pages ;)
  3. If you can’t buy it on your personal credit card… it is not a cloud
    1. Nope I can't accept this. If I'm a fortune 500 company and I'm buying millions of dollars a month in dynamic capacity then I want a professional invoicing and billing approach. When governments build their own clouds they won't be billing to credit cards and for most companies this is an irrelevance.
  4. If they are trying to sell you hardware… its not a cloud.
    1. Absolutely with it
  5. If there is no API… its not a cloud.
    1. This is really to enable 3rd party tools integration and its a good thing. Fair enough
  6. If you need to rearchitect your systems for it… Its not a cloud.
    1. Very very wrong. For a simple reason, shifting boxes into the cloud and doing the same thing you've done before is easy. having a software application that can actually dynamically scale up and down and handle scalable data stores is harder.
    2. To take best advantage of the cloud you need systems that can scale down and up very quickly, LOTS of systems today do not get the full value out of the cloud (as opposed to just virtual infrastructure) and will require re-architecting to take advantage of the cloud.
  7. If it takes more than ten minutes to provision… its not a cloud.
    1. Depends what we call provisioning. I've got 5TB of data to process that needs pre-loading into the database image. Does this count as provisioning as its going to take more than 10 minutes.
    2. If it means 10 minutes to get a new compute instance for an existing system then fair enough but that isn't the same as provisioning a whole system in the cloud.
  8. If you can’t deprovision in less than ten minutes… its not a cloud.
    1. As an IT manager once told me "I can turn any system off in 5 seconds if I have to"... "just kick out the UPS and pull the plugs"
    2. Fair enough point though in that it would at least be managed in a cloud.
  9. If you know where the machines are… its not a cloud.
    1. Really? So Amazon don't have a cloud as I know that some of my instances are in the EU?
    2. If you mean "don't know exactly physically where a given compute instance is" then fair enough, but most companies don't even have a clue where their SAP systems are physically running.
    3. Also against this one is the government cloud and security requirements. I need to know that a given instance is running in a secure environment in a specific country. This doesn't stop it being a cloud it just means that my non-functional requirements have geographical specifications in them.
  10. If there is a consultant in the room… its not a cloud.
    1. Cheap gag. You could add "if a vendor says it is... it is not a cloud"
  11. If you need to specify the number of machines you want upfront… its not a cloud.
    1. Fair enough
  12. If it only runs one operating system… its not a cloud.
    1. Why does this matter? Why can't I have a Linux cloud or a Windows cloud? Why is OS independence critical to a cloud?
  13. If you can’t connect to it from your own machine… its not a cloud.
    1. Non functionals (e.g. Government) might specify this. It depends what connection means. I could connect to the provisioning element without being able to connect to the running instance.
  14. If you need to install software to use it… its not a cloud.
    1. Server or client side? If its the later then I'd disagree, how will you use something like Amazon without installing a browser or the tools to construct an AMI?
    2. If its the former.... I take it that it isn't the former
  15. If you own all the hardware… its not a cloud.
    1. Or you own the cloud and are selling it. What this would mean would that a mega-corp couldn't turn its current infrastructure into a cloud, and I don't see why they can't.
  16. If it takes 20 slides to explain…. its not a cloud
    1. Fair enough again. As long as this is the concepts rather than a code review!

So pretty much I agree with 50% and disagree with the remainder. The point is that cloud is still arbitrary and there are some fixed opinions. Utility pricing is clearly a given, but credit cards aren't (IMO) required.

One big way to tell its not a cloud is of course if you can see the flashing lights.

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monkchips said...

assuming you saw the date on the post, right? things have moved on. the definition however is cloudier than ever.

monkchips said...

also - as you are no doubt aware, there was the intention of humour in the piece.

Steve Jones said...

Damn, missed the date. Just sort it tweeted and assumed it was no. I did say "light hearted" and to your point on it all being cloudier than ever its partly why I went through the list. We really need a concise definition (a reference model?) for clouds.

My favourite is still... clouds, in the real world they are made of water and in the IT they are also vapourwear.

Soa Guru said...

Nice one, thanks a lot

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