Will Cloud Computing Kill the Data Center? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
8/5/2009
02:07 PM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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Will Cloud Computing Kill the Data Center?

I'm consistently hearing that cloud computing is the "data center killer." That sentiment typically comes from cloud computing providers, but now it's coming from some in the press and analyst community as well. I figured I would set the record straight here, and reflect upon some of the key issues.

I'm consistently hearing that cloud computing is the "data center killer." That sentiment typically comes from cloud computing providers, but now it's coming from some in the press and analyst community as well. I figured I would set the record straight here, and reflect upon some of the key issues.

So, will cloud computing kill the data center?

Probably not. While cloud computing is a great fit for some applications, and/or other architectural components, it typically won't be a fit for all applications and/or architectural components. There will always be some data, services, processes, and complete applications that you want to keep within your firewall for a number of reasons, including: Compliance, privacy, fear, control, and cost.Compliance means that it's just plain illegal to place certain architectural components, typically data, outside of the firewall. You should check on the actual legalities as they are typically not well understood. However, there are indeed laws that state specific data can't exist outside of the firewall, or outside of the country. Usually you find these regulations in the world of finance and health care, but they can exist in all business verticals.

Privacy means that, either through policy or demand from those whom the data represents, you can't place certain personal or sensitive data out on cloud platforms because of the possibility that the data could be compromised. Again, these issues are typically more paranoia than reality, but there are instances where privacy concerns will trump cloud computing. Keep in mind that this is often a people issue, not a technology issue. There is no reason you can't keep data private on cloud computing platforms if you take the appropriate precautions.

Fear means that people are just plain afraid of cloud computing and view it as something that will lead to massive failure of core enterprise systems: Fear that data will be lost, data will be compromised, and any fear that one could have when considering cloud computing. In more basic terms, fear that the systems not under your direct control will crash, and there is nothing you can do about it. This is clearly a people issue, again, and you must teach those who fear cloud computing about the benefits, as well as address the fears directly. Listen carefully to their concerns, and then address those concerns.

Control means that people view their role within IT as significant, and that they should continue to control all architectural assets. Thus they feel everything should remain within the data center. These are the "need to hug my server" crowd, and this is another people issue. Some people won't allow cloud computing due to control issues, no matter what business benefits you present to them.

Cost means there are some applications and architectural components (services, processes, and data) that just don't make sense to extend to cloud computing because there are no direct cost savings, or other business benefits. While you can make a business case for some applications, cloud computing is almost never cost effective or a good technical fit for all applications.

Hope this helps.I'm consistently hearing that cloud computing is the "data center killer." That sentiment typically comes from cloud computing providers, but now it's coming from some in the press and analyst community as well. I figured I would set the record straight here, and reflect upon some of the key issues.

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