Cloud // Software as a Service
03:40 PM
Connect Directly

Cloud Computing Comes Down To Earth

Emerging tech always comes with a learning curve. Here are some real-world lessons from early adopters.

InformationWeek Green - July 26, 2010 InformationWeek Green
Download the entire July 26, 2010 issue of InformationWeek, distributed in an all-digital format as part of our Green Initiative
(Registration required.)
We will plant a tree
for each of the first 5,000 downloads.


Businesses are testing cloud computing and, in a few cases, beginning deployment. They're after increased flexibility, agility, and economies of scale, but IT veterans know such gains won't be effortless. There's a steep learning curve with this new computing model.

One of the biggest lessons so far is that it's hard to know precisely what your systems are doing in a public cloud environment. Yes,'s CloudWatch and services like it will tell whether your workloads are operating, but they don't tell how well apps are performing, such as if they're choking on I/O overload.

Even when there's an outright failure, it can be hard to get the information you need. When part of an Amazon data center in northern Virginia suffered primary and backup power failures on Dec. 9, it took 34 minutes before the news was posted on Amazon's Service Health Dashboard. Amazon acknowledged the outage and offered updates, but it was up to customers to assess the impact. To know whether their workloads were down, companies had to subscribe to CloudWatch--not everybody does--or a service such as VMware's CloudStatus or Alternate Networks' network monitoring, or check directly if a failover activated backup servers, which Amazon encourages you to set up for each workload.

Cloud computing service providers, like their customers, are in learning mode during this break-in period. They include infrastructure veterans Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Terremark; outsourcers such as CSC; telecom giants Verizon and AT&T; and newcomers, Engine Yard, Heroku, and many others. If they're candid, they acknowledge they're venturing into unexplored terrain.

Microsoft, which started charging for its Azure cloud services in February, admits it still has work to do, especially in the area of cloud monitoring tools. Enterprise early adopters are in a position to shape how vendors build out these services. A private cloud appliance recently launched by Microsoft is being co-developed with eBay, which will initially use it for the relatively low-volume Garden by eBay service, where it tests partner's ideas and new applications, and eventually for basic auction services, says VP of technology James Barrese.

Even if companies are only testing cloud services, they should explore the inevitable problems that go with an emerging technology, as well as the potential competitive advantages. InformationWeek sought out early adopters to gauge how they're doing in both respects.

Powerful Convergence or False Promise

Become an InformationWeek Analytics subscriber: $99 per person per month, multiseat discounts available.

Subscribe and get our full report on "Private Clouds: Powerful Convergence or False Promise?" This report includes 37 pages of action-oriented analysis, including a survey of 504 business technology professionals. What you'll find:
  • Exclusive data on barriers, implementation plans, budgets, and goals for private clouds
  • Analysis on technology and vendor strategies
  • Insight on infrastructure changes companies needed to implement private clouds

Get This And All Our Reports

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
8 Steps to Modern Service Management
8 Steps to Modern Service Management
ITSM as we know it is dead. SaaS helped kill it, and CIOs should be thankful. Hereís what comes next.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of July 17, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.