About cloud computing

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Last Sunday I commented about Pedro’s opinion about cloud computing and thought I could give my blog a reversed trackback :) Here it goes:

I think Pedro’s message is important. Cloud marketing and fuzzing seems to be targetted to business decision making personnel. However, no matter what they try to look like, that’s a technical decision and I really think that companies just following this marketing hype will eventually get caught on those small contract letters. As a technician, I agree with Pedro on the enterprise [not] moving its core to the cloud, and that the prices are [still] overrated.

However, for medium-to-large traffic platforms, such that they require a complex setup (meaning >4 machines) cloud can be a solution very similar to what could be called Hardware-as-a-Service. Unavoidabily, you have to move this kind of platforms outside the core, even if they are on a DMZ. More, you don’t usually want to mix corporate traffic with specific platforms (eg. a multinational’s CRM, the company’s website, etc.). In this context, cloud adds as much value as a regular hosting company would do, IMO. No more, no less.

Having said that, I still think it has lots of potential for intermediate companies (and again, this lives in technical scope) to provide HW solutions to costumers by clicking and adding “resources” to a [kind of] shop cart and then split them accordingly to their needs. That’s pretty much how Amazon seems to work – not some VPS/sliced hosting we are getting used to. Also, I see benefit for large hosting companies (now these could be those VPS/sliced ones :) ) because they can turn the income on periodic basis to match the periodic costs. From this intermediate’s perspective, one of the great features of this cloud thing is that they have setup quite heterogeneous provising systems, which a regular company can’t handle – that is to say you could setup a small/medium/full-blown pile of servers with a few clicks. Time also costs money.

Of course, this is all theoretical while the prices remain so high. It seemed even worst from my searches (although I confess I didn’t explore in depth): you will pay much more with cloud to have there available the same resources you can find on typical dedicated hosting servers – but it’s also true you rarely use them at 100%, so you may eventually get more cost/performance benefit in the near future (because when you buy or rent hardware it’s very difficult to recover the cost).

My conclusion is that the cloud is trying to attract customers on the hype, and that makes our technical advice more needed than ever: explain to the client how to plan, how to implement, and how to scale and where exactly the cloud fits in. To them, my recommendation is this: being on the cloud just because “it’s cool” or because it (seems) so simple you won’t need specialized IT staff, will eventually turn against you.

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