TechLines panellist profile: Glenn Wightwick

TechLines: Cloud Control panellist Glenn Wightwick answers a few brief questions on cloud computing in Australia.
Written by Brian Haverty, Contributor

In the lead-up to the live TechLines: Cloud Control broadcast, we thought we'll give you a little more background on our featured panellists. We've asked each of them five questions regarding cloud computing and specified that they be as brief as possible in the answers (there will be plenty of time to go into more detail on 17 February).

Glenn Wightwick is director of IBM Research and Development - Australia, chief technologist for IBM Australia and an IBM distinguished engineer. He is heavily focused on the establishment of a new R&D Lab which hopes to promote smarter planet initiatives by putting research scientists into contact with development engineers. Here are Glenn's answers to our pre-event questions.


IBM's Glenn Wightwick

Why aren't companies moving faster to cloud computing?

There are a number of reasons why many companies are taking a practical and prudent approach to how they exploit cloud computing. Companies need to consider where their data in the cloud is going to be physically located and how this intersects with privacy laws and/or regulations. Is it technically feasible to migrate a particular application and its associated software stack? If a company migrates applications to a particular cloud provider, can they easily migrate to another cloud provider at some point in the future? What sort of service levels will cloud providers commit to?

Which business systems are best suited to move to cloud computing?

This of course depends on each individual organisation and what their IT environment looks like. Many organisations have successfully migrated collaboration workloads into public clouds. Test and development workloads often have significant peaks and troughs in terms of the computational resources they require and are good candidates for cloud computing. Organisations that have invested in virtualising their IT infrastructure and build robust standardised IT processes around their IT systems typically find it easier to migrate to a cloud computing environment.

How easy is it to bring everything back in-house if a company decides to abandon the cloud?

The ability to move applications between cloud computing providers (including migrating back to an in-house environment) requires the development and adoption of cloud computing standards. Work is underway, but there is more to be done here ... this is certainly one of the factors that is impacting the adoption of cloud computing and also contributing to the deployment of private clouds.

What's your response when someone says they "don't trust the cloud"?

I'd like to understand the reason they have formed that view. Is it because they aren't sure where their data is located, or whether their data is actually deleted when they request it be to removed? Are they concerned that the lack of standards and interoperability between cloud providers limits their ability to migrate workloads? Do they have concerns about security, service levels or doing problem determination in the cloud? Some of these concerns are valid; however, I would argue that partnering with a company who has demonstrated capability and technology in IT services, security, virtualisation, software and systems will naturally be able to apply that capability to build robust cloud computing offerings.

Tell us one thing cloud computing isn't. (What is a "myth" about cloud computing?)

A pervasive misconception is that "cloud computing is just a new IT technology". It's worth looking at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology's definition of cloud computing, which describes cloud computing as "model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction". This definition doesn't describe any particular technology.

Hear more from Glenn and our other panellists at the TechLines: Cloud Control live broadcast, which will take place on ZDNet Australia at noon (AEDST) on 17 February. Check out the calendar feature in the right column to get a reminder closer to the event.

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