I recently read the post, When Is the Right Time to Launch Your Own Cloud? and thought Alistair Croll was on to something. We’re all hearing quite a bit of media chatter about “cloud computing.” Sometimes suppliers may use other terms such as “Mesh computing” or “Elastic Cloud Computing.” All of these terms really boil down to an old idea being implemented using new technology — advanced networking technology combined with sophisticated virtualization technology.
In the past, suppliers used terms such as “service bureaus” or “application service providers” to put forward the idea that applications be rewritten using new tools and then have them hosted somewhere on the Internet or in the organization’s own datacenter. Usually, however, the idea included the thought of using the suppliers' services and datacenter. The fact that this approach might be beneficial even of all of the applications were in the organization's own datacenters was downplayed. The real story is just making all of an organization's new applications web-based so that it no longer matters where the application is running, whether the environment is physical or virtual or even what type of client system is being used to access it.
Some of the strongest and loudest proponents of this approach are suppliers of hosting services and software for development and deployment that are hoping to sell products and services to organizations worldwide. Their throw-everything-away-and-start-over-with-our-products approach promises lower costs, higher levels of reliability and availability and often doesn’t mention that this idea has been tried again and again in some form or another for decades only to have organizations take back some or all of their processing due to concerns about security, privacy, performance or cost.
Organizations are clearly moving in this direction one application at a time on their own as new applications are developed. They're choosing to to support web-based user interfaces rather than using custom or proprietary client software. They're just looking for ways to integrate the concept of cloud computing into their IT infrastructure when and where it fits not allow some supplier to insist that they change what they're doing to fit into their infrastructure. In the end, organizations are going to “own” their own cloud even of portions or, perhaps, all of it are hosted on external systems.
While “Cloud Computing” is the newest catch phrase, it’s important to remember that organizations are deliberately adopting more general, lower cost, highly interoperable technologies that make it possible for them to choose to use external services or systems.