I’ve looked at clouds …

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow

It’s clouds illusions I recall

I really don’t know clouds, at all

– Joni Mitchell

I really must stop using song titles and lyrics in these blog entries but ……

Anyway, I recently sat as part of an august panel of CIOs, drawn together to critique yet another a vendor proposition on cloud computing, and listened intently as we all described “Cloud” differently. Chatham House rules apply so I wont name names but it was all kinda worrying as the discussion was actually supposed to be about something called “hybrid cloud” which I subsequentyly learnt is supposed to be  “the intersection of public and private clouds” – or cloud 2.0 as some wags are now calling it.

After much debate one of the attendees lent forward, cupped his head in his hands and proclaimed “What is all this B***s**t ?? Come on guys lets get real !! Am I really going to sit in a room with my CEO and have this conversation ??”

I found myself strangely drawn to his candour. Its bad enough that many CEO’s still think that IT spends too much time with its head in the clouds, now we’re introducing vocabulary that even we don’t even understand.

In an earlier post I issued the plea to stop banging on about what this cloud stuff is or is not and to focus on harnessing the underlying technologies to deliver / enable our business strategies. I still hold firm to this view but the IT industry – particularly the vendor community – do have a responsibility to put some shape and form around this whole debate. Now you can agree or disagree with my previous post about “nothing changes” and that actually this is all just ones and zeros painted a different colour (albeit offered at a lower price point), but one thing that IT supposedly does well is process and standards – so why are we as an industry ignoring our strengths and perpetuating the marketing spin and hype.

So, with that in mind, here are my 3 essential priorities for any supply side cloud advocates – “my 3 x S’s”

1. Shape – put some real and tangible definitions up that give this whole debate some shape and meaning. What do things like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) actually mean in practise ?? How do you engage and more importantly disengage with suppliers?? What should you really focus on ?? What do you need inside the enterprise to succeed ?? etc etc
2. Standards – we desperately need standards that address the well articulated security and data integrity / audit concerns whether they be fact or fiction – remember that perception IS reality !! The supply side MUST address this and, whilst there are emerging initiatives around data location, exchange/interchange protocols etc these are in their infancy and need to be embraced and accelerated
3. Segmentation – there is no one size fits all “cloud solution” so it is incumbent on the vendor community to start helping different industries and sectors chart a path to meeting their disparate needs.

The onward march of cloud computings underlying technologies is inevitable – what is up for grabs here is whether we can accelerate the road to practical adoption by removing the hype.

JMHO

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