Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cloud in a box: Life on Mars in Hardware or an empty glass of water?

There are some phrases that are just plain funny and for me 'Cloud in a Box' which is available from multiple vendors is probably just about the best. The idea here is that you can buy a box - a box that looks and acts like a 1970s Mainframe: virtualisation, big power consumption, vendor lock in - and joy of joys you've now got a 'cloud'.

  • Do you pay for this cloud on demand? 
    • Nope
  • Do you pay for this cloud based on usage?
    • Nope
  • Are you able to just turn off this cloud and then turn it on later and not pay anything for when its off
    • Nope you still need to pay maintenance
  • Can I license software for it based on usage
    • Errr probably not, you'll have to negotiate that
  • Is this cloud multi-tenant?
    • Errr it can be... if you buy another cloud in a box
  • Is this cloud actually pretty much a mainframe virtualisation offer from 1980?
    • Err yes
At first I was thinking that this was in fact the sort of thing created by folks who watch Life on Mars and want to see their data centre populated with flashing lights. But then I realised actually there is a better reason that you don't get cloud in a box.

Clouds are vapour, they float, they dynamically resize... if you put a cloud in a box then the vapour will stick to the sides and turn into water... taking up about 1% of the volume of the cloud.  For me this sums up the reason why it doesn't come in a box.  Clouds need to have capacity well beyond your own normal needs so that if you 'spike' then you can spike in that cloud but not need the capacity the rest of the year.  So a 1% ratio is probably the minimum you should be looking at in terms of what you cloud provider has against what your normal capacity is.  This is the reason that provider clouds like Amazon, or those from other large scale data centre providers, aren't 'in a box' but instead are mutualised capacity environments.   Even if one of these providers gives you a 'private' area of VLANs and tin they've still got the physical capacity to extend it without much of a problem.  That is what a cloud is, dynamic capacity paid for when you use it.

Cloud in a box?  I'm a glass 1% full sort of guy.

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Zubin Wadia said...

Up next, Schrödinger's Cloud.

the g said...

Came accross this term recently. Now thats seriously funny.
The USP of cloud is that there is no box.
If I have to deal with a box to get my "cloud", whats the point?

I have to admire the marketing guys who came up with this meet me in the middle sort of approach.

The uber cool guys are happy that its "cloud"
Tin huggers are happy coz its in a "box"

Every one wins. (except Ofcourse business)