Cloud Computing is just Clown Computing

You might be surprised to learn just how many invites and press releases TechEye gets about Cloud Computing with every vendor and his dog hyping up the “cloud solutions” they’ve got and how they’re going to revolutionise the world of big business.

But while most are agreed that cloud computing is basically access to data and software across the internet, like real clouds there are all sorts of varieties and vendors have their own particular mist they want to help confuse the matter.

Oracle: “Cloud computing promises to speed application deployment, increase innovation, and lower costs, all while increasing business agility. It also can transform the way we design, build, and deliver applications.”

HP: “Cloud computing gives your enterprise choice—choice in how you source and deliver services to speed delivery time and cut costs. HP cloud solutions are designed to help CIOs and their IT organizations become the builder and broker of IT services, maintaining control, building value, and leveraging the power of private and public cloud services.”

Fog in Osney - Mike Magee pic

It’s all so foggy, I can’t see the way ahead

Intel: “IT managers are facing constraints on space, power, and costs. In the midst of these growing demands, a new class of solutions is emerging to transform the data center. Intel views this as an opportunity to deliver cloud-based architectures that enable federated (communications, data, and services move easily within and across cloud computing infrastructure), automated (services and resources can be specified, located, and securely provisioned with little to no human interaction) and client-aware (solutions recognize and optimize delivery of cloud-based applications to any end-user device) cloud services that are built with an open approach. To achieve this vision, Intel is driving an Open Data Center initiative to enable more secure, efficient, and simplified cloud data centers that preserve IT flexibility and choice.”

IBM: “Cloud computing helps enterprises transform business and technology. With IBM’s enterprise class cloud computing capabilities, you have the trusted partner to help you assess cloud readiness, develop adoption strategies and identify business entry points.”

All marketing gobbledygook, of course. The vendors are ready to jump on any buzz word in an attempt to lock in companies and IT managers into a model that for many is fraught with risk.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison is rightly famous for snapping at a senior European IT journalist at an Oracle User Group: “Your data is safer in my hands than in yours.” But there are several pitfalls about having any of these megavendors handling company data and that’s why there’s, let’s say, a certain reluctance for IT managers to open their kimonos and put their, er,  crown jewels in the hands of money grabbing multinationals.

There are several concerns for any company moving into the great Cloud of Unknowing.  First, there’s a legal one – what if your data is held “in the cloud” and you get embroiled in some litigation, with a plaintiff demanding that, say IBM, open its archives for the purposes of discovery?  Second, there’s a question of security. If your data is held in an Oracle cloud, perhaps across different jurisdictions, does it conform to the law in those jurisdictions? Legislators are notoriously dumb in understanding how computers work, and your average CEO isn’t too bright about that either.  Thirdly, corporate data is jealously held. What if, for instance, the cloud computing vendor you work with is hit by some catastrophe all of its own? Can your business carry on functioning properly?

There aren’t any standards either.

We need only look at the catalogue of disasters on Facebook and Google, both  cloud computing vendors – to see what the potential pitfalls are for companies. Through a series of mishaps and mistakes, both companies have found themselves being investigated by different government authorities. Data has “leaked” to third party companies and relationships and jobs have fallen apart because, because Facebook can be “when worlds collide”.

It’s hardly surprising that IT managers and CIOs are sceptical about the benefits of cloud computing when they’ve been burned so many times in the past by “strategic plans” proposed by vendors that have, in the end, just fallen apart.

Hey, you, get off of my cloud!