I am an IT manager for a fortune 500 company. We do some virtualization but definitely not to the extent that it is available. As an investor I am trying to decide where to play this growing trend, which according to most sources, is definitely going to be highly adopted in the coming decade. This thread is intended to first dicuss who the players are and then discuss who are best positioned to reap the highest rewards.While there is info on this everywhere I will use an article from Beth Cohen of the Advisory Group as a starting point. Here is an excerpt;"...Some have broken cloud computing down into two types of products: utility computing and SaaS. Utility computing refers to backup, storage processing engines, virtual servers and other low-level services. Some of the vendors and offerings include:On-demand computing: Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3), IBM Blue Cloud, Oracle On Demand, Sun Cloud (future)Servers: Joyent, Mosso (Rackspace)Backup: EMC Mozy, Carbonite SaaS, on the other hand, is usually sold on a per seat basis, and is particularly good for midsize businesses with simple requirements. There are a plethora of services available. There even has been a recent trend towards formerly software-only vendors adding SaaS offerings. The listing below is just a quick sampling of the many SaaS offerings now available:CRM: Salesforce, NetSuiteERP: SAP Business ByDesign, IBM Applications on DemandE-mail: 123Together, ApptixVoicemail: VirtualPBXOffice suite: Google, Microsoft LiveDatabase: Oracle On Demand, IBM The reasons for considering cloud computing are certainly compelling. The five-year projections for cloud computing adoption are high. The prediction is that 80% of the Fortune 1000 will have implemented some cloud services, and 30% will have cloud computing infrastructure in some form. 50% of midsize companies will have some cloud services in place. They are going to be most attracted to SaaS products, backup and redundancy offerings, while 80+% of small companies will use cloud services for bootstrapping their IT infrastructures..."Finally here is a link she included for cloud vendors;Cloud Vendors A to Z (http://www.johnmwillis.com/cloud-computing/cloud-vendors-a-t...) — Comprehensive list of vendors on the John Willis blog
Over the years I've been a sys admin, developmental analyst (fancy name for programmer) and project manager for a large multi-national corporation. I see cloud computing like "fools gold". At first it looks good with lots of potential, but on a closer look there are a few problems if you want to turn it into money.Cloud computing has great potential on the surface, but when you dig deeper it has some very serious flaws. Flaws that should ring alarm bells in those big corporations. Things like records retention requirements and retaining *full* control over all of your information.Personal e-mail, e-mail with references to operations or products, discussions of product development, and the list goes on. Each of these have different requirements. They are kept the required time which varies from a year to life of the corporation plus 10 years. Each has a requirement for keeping the document. That document is kept that long and not one day longer. Does the remote storage provider adhere to this including their backups?Even remote storage does not meet the requirements if you have FDA validation requirements. In the case of the FDA *you* must retain full control over all software and hardware. You are required to document every piece of that software and hardware as well as any changes. How about having all of your records on another companies server? What if some one wants to look them over. It can be done at present without you ever knowing.I see cloud computing as a good "short term" investment. IOW, it'll be great until reality sets in and companies realize how many requirements it fails in providing. There will likely be quite a few get burned due to those failings and the reputation of "the cloud" will suffer.I have never worked on a project where software or hardware could have been provided as a service from outside. It would not have met legal requirements or our own internal requirements for security or records retention guidelines. NOW, having said all that, I do know of several fortune 500 companies using a contract data storage service by a large and well established company. The contracts for records retention were very complex, but doable. As far as I know they do not deal with any FDA validated systems and they were not cheap. It's also possible that the regulations will be changed to make cloud computing a much more viable service.Although the data rests with some one else you are still responsible for it.
There are some excellent points above. But as a software designer/engineer I'd ask this: where will competitive advantage come from for cloud companies? It's easy to see where and why the cloud will have advantages over the current enterprise model, but I think it's too early to say who will have a critical advantage in the cloud - and that is going to determine which of the cloud players will be a storm coming in as opposed to a faint drizzle.One of the most obvious candidates for victory is Google but a lot will depend on whether the US and EEC - and China - allow their strategy legally. It is does seem to be a hell of a good strategy, though -- Create a new operating system which will run phones, Netbooks, and a new generation of office desktops (paperback booked sized machines that burn only 9W of electricity, compared to the current 300-500W)- Let other people manufacture the hardware- Take advantage of the special opportunities an OS owner has to create dominant applications just as Microsoft did before it.The problem is, of course, that this is a strategy of unfair competition. Which isn't to say that it won't be allowed - MSoft got away with it - but there is room for difficulties.It's also possible that a good-enough open source solution will commoditize the cloud business the way that ISP hosting business has been commoditized. We see Windows on desktops everywhere, so it's easy to forget that the servers crunching out the Internet are usually running Linux and that even "smart" application-like websites are ctive usually implemented with open source coding packages like Perl, Apache, and most lately Ruby On Rails. Googling the last one will show just how effective a open source technology can be and how quickly it can spread - ROR has cut the cost of coding many types of website by an order of magnitude compared. In doing so it has greatly reduced the benefit to Microsoft of having created a better Java in its (damn good and very expensive) .NET technology. So I'd counsel would-be cloud investors:- Watch google - Watch the people regulating google and see who google is hiring to lobby for them- Look out for open source technology coming in from left field. India and China - and continental Europe - have strong political reasons for preferring open source while the alternative is handing over control of their information infrastructure to US based companies. - Remember that we're not in the 80s: Europe, China and India may be the markets that settle which technologies and providers become dominant. Each has more people than the US and they're psychologically and economically more inclined towards networking and "light" solutions, as they showed by adopting Netbooks much faster than the US.
Not being in the software business, it seems to me the big issue is finding the company that provide the best security to their cloud services. Is there a company out there that specializes in cloud security?
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