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What Traditional Software Vendors Are Saying About Cloud Computing

At today's Cloud Summit in Silicon Valley, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka gave a thoughful analysis of why he thinks cloud computing isn't ready for prime time. But is that an honest assessment or just the stance of traditional software vendor worried about being outflanked?
At today's Cloud Summit in Silicon Valley, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka gave a thoughful analysis of why he thinks cloud computing isn't ready for prime time. But is that an honest assessment or just the stance of traditional software vendor worried about being outflanked?My take is that it's a little of both, with the added element of an enterprise focus that doesn't clearly see cloud computing's value to smaller companies.

According to a presentation from SAP's Sikka, cloud computing is ready in three areas, and not ready in three others.

READY

Power: Over a 3-year lifespan, powering a computer will cost about half as much as the price of the computer itself -- and that cost is growing. Cloud computing data centers can be optimized for power efficiency.

Infrastructure: Cloud computing data centers have developed a low cost model of large farms of small, cheap computers connected with basic cabling. Failure of individual computers may be common, but it's compensated for with massive redundancy.

Operations: The people who run a data center are the most expensive component, and large cloud-based centers make the most efficient use of personnel.

NOT READY

Integration: According to Sikka, the integration issue is not even close to being solved. In fact, cloud computing makes integration more difficult by fragmenting applications from multiple vendors. He predicts it will be years before this issue is resolved.

Integrity: This is the most serious issue, Sikka said, because the consequences of problems with data integrity are so severe. And he said it's also not close to a solution.

Elasticity: This is the hardest issue to solve for the enterprise, Sikka said. Cloud computing typically uses lots of iterations of simple actions, but "the goal is to serve every action, every role, in every business with maximum efficiency, reliability and coherence," he said. "We're not even close to being able to do that in the cloud."

Sikka concluded with the following blanket statement: "I guarantee you that 5 years from now, not everything will be running in the cloud. Absolutely no way."

But that's kind of a red herring, in two signficant ways. First, not everything has to be running in the cloud for it to become dominant. And second, it's no secret that large enterprises will likely be the last to move to cloud computing.

In another panel at the Cloud Summit, Navid Chaddha, managing director of the Mayfield Fund, said it's a "given" that "companies big and small will be leveraging te cloud in the next few years." Entrepreneurs and startups will lead the way, Chaddha said, followed by SMBs. Fortune 500 companies' move to the cloud will be via managed services from big vendors like HP and IBM who know how to work with legacy applicaitons and know how to deal with integration issues.

The lesson here? On the one hand, Sikka is right. Enterprises do have to be cautious in their move to cloud computing. But from bMighty's perspective, that's a great reason for smaller, more nimble companies to jump in and grab a competitive advantage.