Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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3/16/2010
10:56 AM
Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
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Practical Analysis: How To Lead In Cloud Adoption

Cloud Connect event shows companies taking very practical approaches to implementing cloud computing.

Chances are most of you haven’t heard of the Cloud Business Summit. This year, the event took place a day before the Cloud Connect in Santa Clara. This first day event is a fairly intimate affair for about 200 of Silicon Valley’s movers and shakers.

That I was asked to be a presenter at this event for the second year is something of a curiosity. If you’ve followed my writings here, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of rushing headlong into a “cloud strategy,” and that’s not necessarily the message I’d expect this crowd wants to hear. Think Nancy Pelosi at a Gopac meeting, or Newt Gingrich at MoveOn.Org. But as with last year, I found myself in more or less full agreement with the pragmatic view taken by the actual practitioners with whom I shared the stage.

This year I moderated a discussion between Tony Young, the CIO of Informatica, and James Barrese, who’s the VP of Architecture, Platforms and Systems at eBay. Neither company is what you’d call a cloud vendor, but both companies do provide online services as part their offerings. Both men were on the panel because they are staunch advocates of creating both a cloud friendly infrastructure within their IT organization and of using cloud services, particularly software as a service applications wherever they make sense.

Although Informatica and eBay are vastly different companies in size, market, and the type of customers they cater to, their views on the present and future viability of cloud services were amazingly similar. For instance, while both see the viability of infrastructure as a service from vendors such as Amazon, they see the services today as fairly immature and not yet ready to cater to the needs enterprise customers. A simple example made the point. Most enterprises are VMware shops and might embrace a hybrid infrastructure model--if one existed for VMware. Enterprises might be a lot more receptive if they could use tools like VMotion to start and stop VMs in the cloud as easily as they can in their own data centers.

Even for SaaS applications, both find it to be closer to the beginning of its maturity model than at the end. There’s a lot of ways to look at this. From a market point of view, the number of SaaS vendors is steadily increasing, one might even say rapidly increasing. California knows a little about the booms and busts of a gold rush, and right now we’re seeing every prospector with a pick ax and a pair of Levis heading for the hills. Sorting out the winners and losers at this point is a fool’s bet (or maybe a venture capitalist’s). There’s going to be crazy growth followed by rapid consolidation, followed by controlled growth followed by more consolidation before this breed of company is mature.

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