The Cloud Is Not Just "Out There"

Summary:Oh my isn't there a lot of information out there that discusses the "true nature of cloud computing" and the "difference between cloud computing and SaaS"? The debate now perhaps will move on to what cloud power we draw down from where and what we do with it.

Oh my isn't there a lot of information out there that discusses the "true nature of cloud computing" and the "difference between cloud computing and SaaS"? The debate now perhaps will move on to what cloud power we draw down from where and what we do with it.

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As we realise that the cloud is a virtually managed set of CPUs held across geographically dispersed data centres, with SaaS essentially being a subset of the cloud or the "delivery end" of the equation if you like – the question is, does it matter where our cloud resources actually are and how we program for them?

While most "massively scalable" cloud offerings will be SaaS services that reside in multi-tenanted data centres, this means that the application delivery will necessarily be emanating from multiple locations. So is it OK if we think of the cloud as just being "out there" and therefore as "turn off and onable" as we want? Can we build applications in exactly the same model through the same methodologies and the just rocket launch them into the clouds?

The answer is no.

IT Manager #1: "Hey dude, we just bought into some really cool new cloud delivery services, you should come and check them out."

IT Manager #2: "Ah OK, so where are your clouds' data centres based? Are they UK/EU or are they US or Asia perhaps? What kind of core virtualisation infrastructure will you be plugging in to? Linux KVM (for Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is popular I hear."

IT Manager #1: "There's more to this cloud malarkey than I thought."

So what are the considerations here then?

In no particular order: any application built to run over flexible cloud servers will arguably benefit from being broken down into it compartment parts either by a process of parallel programming or by simply assigning policies within the management layer to accommodate for its wider physical footprint.

As data protection rules will differ from region to region, geographic location will have an impact upon considerations for corporate controls such as compliance. A company may also have eco-centric targets that stipulate targets for carbon emissions, using data centers poorly ranked for Power Usage Effectiveness in the third world may be off limits.

There are, logically, also privacy and security considerations here following on in the same vein and for many of the same reasons as already suggested.

So what to do?

Credit where it's due, I was exchanging mails this subject with Jorn Lyseggen, who is CEO of Meltwater who are a kind of dedicated SaaS-focused IT consultancy. Lyseggen's suggestion that the cloud can not just be "out there" is of course backed up with his comments on how disruptive cloud technology is creating new business models and how we should manage the applications that reside within them.

There's lots more meat hear and I feel I have only scratched the surface. The already quite saddle sore "bringing in the cloud back down to earth" blog headline is set for a lot more usage yet.

Topics: Software Development

About

Adrian Bridgwater a freelance journalist specialising in cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects of software engineering and project management. Adrian is a regular blogger with ZDNet.co.uk covering the application development landscape and the movers, shakers and start-ups that make the indust... Full Bio

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