These are two great articles about current status of cloud computing. One is published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR); it’s title is “How the Cloud Looks from the Top: Achieving Competitive Advantage In the Age of Cloud Computing”. The other article is published by the CIO magazine with title “The 10 Worst Cloud Outages (and What We Can Learn From Them)”. Both articles provide great insights about current status of cloud computing. In my previous blog, I talked about the problems of replacing data centers with cloud computing and concluded that cloud computing is not a feasible solutions to replace data centers. It is quite interesting to see that people are aware that ERP also does not work well with cloud computing. However, cloud computing may still work out for general businesses, especially when they are consumer-facing store front such as recently announced Apple iCloud. Here, I provide a high level summaries of both articles for your interest. Links to both articles are available at the end of the summaries.
The HBR article is a review conducted over 1,493 readers of HBR’s readers who were involved in making technology decisions for their organizations with 16 in-depth phone interviews with CIOs, business leaders, and cloud experts. Overall, people acknowledge the following high value benefits of the cloud computing:
- Increased business agility (44%);
- Flexible capacity (41%);
- Faster adoption of new technology (36%);
- Lower fixed cost (shift from capex to opex) (33%);
- Lower up-front costs to develop / deploy IT systems (31%);
- Always on newest versions of software without IT updates / patches (26%).
And, advantages of cloud are
- Lets us experiment more easily at low cost (64%);
- Enables deeper collaboration with business partners (61%);
- Frees up IT resources to work on more strategic things (60%);
- Is a source of competitive advantage for early adopters (57%);
- Lowers the cost of doing business (55%);
- Lowers overall IT costs (55%).
Significant concerns associated with cloud computing are
- Data security (60%);
- Reliability / business continuity (46%);
- Legal / compliance issues (33%);
- Lack of interoperability with existing IT systems (31%);
- Vendor lock-in (29%);
- Lack of control (26%);
- Lack of transparency (21%);
- Lack of standards (20%);
- Lack of skills (19%).
Furthermore, people’s confidence on cloud computing is not that high with only 20% feeling confident and the rest feeling somewhat or not confident. There are also big gaps between how people feel important about cloud computing and what they really know about it.
Overall, these are very good and valid arguments about the cloud computing. Some of them are very useful, especially the benefits of cloud computing. However, there is still one more item that this article overlooks, that is, internet bandwidth limitation. Today, traffic of business IT systems is routed within the firewalls of companies. If all businesses adopted cloud computing, all of those traffic would move from within-firewalls to outside-firewalls. With today’s internet being already choking with increasing demand of video from Netflix and Youtube, the adoption of cloud computing would make the business traffic compete with video traffic in the same limited internet we have today. The internet will not be able to handle such huge volume of traffic without outages in the future. As a result, the cloud computing will remain beneficial only to limited areas of businesses today. You can download the HBR review article at this link.
Next, the CIO article lists the following 10 worst cloud computing outages and lessons learned:
- Amazon web service 4-day outage in April, 2001, due to incorrect system routing and backup.
- T-Mobile and Microsoft 7-day Sidekick outage in the fall of 2009.
- Google 4-day email outage in February, 2009, due to bugs in codes.
- Microsoft Hotmail outage in 2010 due to bugs in codes.
- Intuit service outage in June, 2010, due to power failures.
- Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Standard Suite) outage in May, 2011.
- Salesforce outage in January, 2010 due to data center down.
- Terremark’s outage in March, 2010 due to data center down.
- PayPal outage in the summer of 2009 due to hardware failure.
- Rackspace outages in 2009.
Although people claim that cloud computing faces the same challenges as operating your own data centers, the environment of the cloud computing is much more complicated than a stand-alone data center. Therefore, the cloud computing is more vulnerable than the data center today. People need to be aware of the risk and the business areas which can really leverage of the cloud. The CIO article is available at this link.
[6/28/2011] As a new side note, there is another article stresses the idea that cloud computing is not for everything and people should address the security issues of cloud computing more than they are today. Check out the following CSO article: Public Cloud Can’t Be Used for Everything, Says UBS CISO.