Monday, January 03, 2011

I don't care about cloud because I don't care about tin

I'll start with an admission, I've worked with cloud providers for quite a few years now and the reason is not because I'm excited about elastic scalability of compute and storage... its exactly because I don't care about elastic scalability of compute and storage. I've said before that Tin Huggers are a major blocker to cloud adoption... but now I wonder if cloud itself is actually part of a broader problem...

Cloud is just tin, virtual tin it doesn't actually have a point, it doesn't actually do anything...

Great cloud services such as Amazon AWS are great not because they provide a bunch of tin, but because they provide a set of services which enable the virtualisation of tin. You aren't buying tin its the service, but all the service provides is virtual tin.

SaaS however is different because SaaS provides you with some business capabilities, you are buying a set of business services and you are buying them "as is". Cloud is in one sense just a revision of current IT models where you are building your stuff on virtualised infrastructure, sure its a bit more dynamic but at the end of the day you are still building your own stuff the only difference is that rather than it being hosted in a data centre you never visit but on tin you've bought its hosted in a data centre you don't even know where it is on tin you are renting.

So my point is that cloud is in one sense dull, its the same reason I don't care about the telephone infrastructure, sure I make phone calls and I'm glad its all there, but its the phone and the services I care about, the infrastructure can go hang. This doesn't mean cloud or the phone infrastructure aren't important building blocks for lots of things and clearly SaaS builds on cloud, but equally clearly SaaS is the point that (in the words of the OASIS SOA RM) delivers the real world effect while Cloud just forms part of the execution context.

Lots of cloud marketing and words out there is really just old style IT with a minor bit of lip gloss applied by using "cloud", but does that actually deliver a better service to the business? Sure sometimes the dynamism is good, but sometimes you'd be better off just buying a SaaS service and people are using Cloud interchangeably with SaaS to deliberately muddy the waters and pretend that by doing Cloud they are in fact really doing SaaS and being more business centric.

Cloud is IT centric, SaaS is business centric.

And that is why I care about SaaS and don't care about Cloud. I want to know what services the business can run not how "dynamic" or "scalable" the tin is, I've heard those conversations all my career and they've always bored me. Software is scalable, tin just gets bigger (horizontally or vertically). Cloud is a diversion, sometimes its a successful diversion but in 80%+ of cases SaaS is the true revolution and confusing it with virtual tin isn't helping move us forwards.

Clouds are boring, because Clouds do nothing, its what you run on Clouds that counts and most of the time SaaS is better than old style custom build but on a shinier set of tin.

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1 comment:

Noons said...

I've heard those conversations that "IT is not business and should be removed from all businesses" all my career and they've always bored me.
Thanks for confirming it yet again.