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Cloud Myth 101: Cloud Is A Place

You don't get to simply load your old enterprise IT problems on a truck and arrive at a new abode. But you do get to decide what kind of IT shop to become.
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A security expert whom I follow on Twitter recently took issue with journalists' continued insistence on writing headlines about moving to the cloud, racing to the cloud, and traveling to the cloud. He's absolutely right. You don't move to the cloud. The cloud is not a place, when we speak of it in computing terms. It is an operational model (with many variations) that you adopt--and then continue to adapt.

You change your IT staff, your IT operations, and some of the tools in use, in order to accommodate this model. But you don't get to simply load your old enterprise IT problems on a truck and arrive at a new place.

To put place aside and use a different analogy, cloud computing is more like a marriage. Once you get married, the hard work of making the marriage successful for both people really begins. Once you transition to a cloud model, you and your team will be working at it for years.

This cloud move terminology is a headline-writing habit that I have vowed to break, so we will try hard not to move to the cloud anymore here on InformationWeek.com.

We will, however, be closely watching that cloud model evolve, and examining what makes it work for enterprises. Case in point: InformationWeek's Charles Babcock recently sat down with Cloud Technology Partners execs to talk to them about the framework that they use with customers preparing for private cloud projects. Consider their advice in 6 Big Questions For Private Cloud Projects.

You must start with the very practical--exactly what is getting done in legacy applications, for example--but move on to the visionary: What kind of IT shop do you want to become? Does the cloud model mean, for you, that you'll get rid of lots of hardware? Chop IT delivery times in half? Have a nimble group of in-house developers using open source tools, or stick with trusted vendors who now speak SaaS? Moving to a mythical, offsite place "in the cloud" would be a lot easier.

For most enterprises, private vs. public cloud, still a favorite debate among cloud industry types, is not an either/or question, or a question of which cloud is "true cloud". It's a question of mix. What stays private for now, and what moves to public, and when.

My UBM colleague Greg MacSweeney of Wall St. & Technology had an interesting interview with Adam Selipsky, vice president of Amazon Web Services. AWS says even financial services customers--who of course face some of the toughest security and compliance hurdles--are re-examining their attitudes toward cloud security.

Though Selipsky declined to share how many financial services customers AWS has now, he shared some interesting examples of banking and related customers edging into some tasks being done using the public cloud model. (See, no moving to the cloud.)

"We've not found that the size of the bank is a big factor in determining the rate of adoption," Selipsky told MacSweeney. "AWS has financial institutions of all sizes leveraging the services. For example, Bankinter, one of Spain's five largest banks, has adopted AWS for their credit risk simulations. Bankinter uses HPC on AWS to run credit risk simulations to evaluate the financial health of their clients. By incorporating AWS into their IT environment, Bankinter has managed to take their average time for running simulations from 23 hours to 20 minutes."

That's not a place. That's a smashing process success.

Laurianne McLaughlin is editor-in-chief for InformationWeek.com. Follow her on Twitter at @lmclaughlin.