Cloud computing is an exciting concept for users of IT. They get what they want, when and where they need it. And because they only pay for what they use, the finance team like it too. The IT team can relax because someone else is looking after everything. Everybody happy. On Cloud 9 even. (for some reason it’s a legal requirement to use puns when talking about cloud)

Not quite. Turns out it’s tricky to build a real life, working IT infrastructure that let’s everyone do anything they want – securely, legally and for a reasonable cost. And organisations have existing processes and infrastructure – might not work well and be slow, but is OK and has been paid for.

When I was at the 451 Group Data Centre Transformation summit in Amsterdam I didn’t stay for the part about actual Data Centres (generators, walls, roofs, that sort of thing), but did listen to an interesting debate about Cloud computing in Europe and a great presentation from Simon West of Terremark. Reinforced my view that the adoption of cloud computing is about people, not technology…..

The Pessimist

They will continue what they’ve always done and call it Cloud. Or not. They hate change. What they really want is a Mainframe.

Not helped by many vendors struggling with change doing the same. “In 2008 we sold a good solid SAN array. In 2011 we sell the same product, but now it’s called a Unified Virtualised Cloud Storage System v2.0 vTurbo e”. Sound familiar ? They will find they don’t have a job when a Cloud provider delivers the service they currently deliver faster and for ¼ of the price.

The Optimist

They think Public Cloud is the answer to everything that’s wrong with IT today. Often the self proclaimed ‘Cloud experts’. They know part of the cloud market, but not all. Don’t worry about Service Levels, performance, security, lock-in, etc. – all IT can be managed using Google, Amazon & Yahoo.

In some cases they even ignore the laws of physics. Example of this is the idea that workloads can fly around between clouds with no impact to service. Would be nice to have this flexibility, but the pain transferring data makes this next to impossible.

They will come to work one day to find their data isn’t available or missing. And panic. If you think it doesn’t matter – have a read of this about lives being put at risk due to the outage at Amazon last week.

The Pragmatist

They understand the value the latest ‘Cloud’ technology can offer. And have a long term strategy to stop building inefficient silos of IT, virtualise as much as possible and automate service delivery where they can. They are considering public and private cloud providers where it makes financial sense – based on the real value of information. For example, at the 451 event last week, a representative of the Dutch Police said only 2% of their data was too sensitive to be put in the Cloud !

Typically they have a broad understanding from Data Centres to Applications. And know storage is foundational to the success of their business. In summary, they don’t think of Cloud as anything more than an important evolution in building IT infrastructure that is more efficient and more flexible for their business.

The Bigamist

A lover of many low level Italian Clouds.

Who will win ?

Companies are made up of a mixture of these types of IT folk. I would put myself somewhere between The Pragmatist and The Optimist. The organisations where The Pragmatist wins will benefit most from Cloud Computing.