Saturday, 24 October 2009

The Squirrel on Cloud Computing

[Concrete/Important] The Squirrel is pulling his tail fur out – I’m surprised he has any fur left. He’s been trying to convince the Bears that Cloud Computing is important and in paw’s reach but the little Acorn ERP is just too big to get up into the clouds.

The first push back came from Little Bear, and the Squirrel was expecting this. “Cloud Computing is not really aimed at us” said Little Bear.

Little Bear is scared, probably has too much on his plate. And he’s been nurturing the Acorn and building this huge Oak Tree. In a way, he’s right, though Squirrel. The Cloud is not for our type of ERP, not today. We need to be lean and we need to change if we’re going to live in the Cloud. And it’s the same for On Premise and Hosting – storage may be cheap, but the more structured the requirements, the higher cost per GB. And it’s costing us an arm and a leg to host our Oak Tree. “No way will we be able to manage a forest of Acorn ERPs, not unless we change...” replied the Squirrel.

“And we are not just chucking images onto a file system,” said Squirrel, “We need a relational store and that costs money. We need to think how we can move down to Structured Storage, where storage is cheaper, in the Cloud or otherwise”.

Now Squirrel has always and still believes that sense will prevail. Just then, Mummy Bear entered the debate. “I’ve talked to a number of bears and we think the Cloud is at least 2 year away” she said. “What the f***?” thought the Squirrel. “Possibly true,” he replied, “but not sure what that has to do with it.” Squirrel now wondered where this was going – it certainly didn’t look like the bears were convinced the Cloud was something they should take seriously. “The Cloud may be a way away, but we still need to get lean with our data, regardless of the Cloud. The point is, if we do, we will be Cloud ready and that has to be good”. Where the hell is Daddy Bear, thought the Squirrel?

Cloud Computing is not a fad, it is a step in the evolution of Software and the commerce of Information Systems. The move towards Software as a Service is driven by the commerce of lowering the total cost of ownership. This means I’m willing to “Pay per Click” because I don’t have to own the software, hardware, operations and support. But software companies will die if they just swap the billing model from “license and support” to “service utilization” while taking on the infrastructure costs. This is especially true of hosting but also for the Cloud. It’s not the license cost, it the cost of operations. And the key to this is data. A huge data set in a relational store requires not just disk space, but CPU and memory. And this means support services around the RDBMSs. Add in resilience and high availability and the costs will soar. By dropping down to unstructured or weakly structures storage, costs can be removed without sacrificing storage capacity, resilience or availability. And your scalability improves.

The thing about the Cloud is it forces you towards this discipline. The Squirrel knows this and at the risk of losing all his fur, he needs to ensure the Bears understand this too.

1 comment:

  1. My two cents...

    I think squirrel will soon convince bears on merits of cloud computing as that is something for which time has come. Recession, recent successes of small companies in challenging giants, higher demand for availability thanks to smart phones etc - these factors are going to push many application and services to cloud in near future - as industry pundits predict.

    However problem that squirrels face at the moment is the lack of established and trusted technologies to help them jump into cloud bandwagon. Microsoft has only recently introduced azure and sql server on cloud, only few people are using them and rest are just reading their blogs, case studies to assess whether they can really trust their data and software to be placed somewhere in cloud. Then massiev amazon server crash sent wrong signals. So even though I am sure future is of cloud computing it would take sometime for technologies and infrastructure to get mature and appealing for everyone to start working on cloud.