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Please fasten your seatbelts, there’s turbulence in that there cloud

There is no evidence, no research, no surveys that indicate the cloud is, or ever will be, ready to completely outsource an organization’s data center. There’s no reason to even believe that’s the goal of cloud providers, though it might seem a logical conclusion. So making outrageous claims about the capabilities of the cloud, and the relevance of the data center, does no one any good.

What’s got me so riled up? This particular statement from a prediction for 2009 from Appirio:

But all this talk about “private clouds” is a distraction from the real news: the vast majority of companies shouldn’t need to worry about operating any sort of data center anymore, cloud-like or not.

coupled with this statement:

There’s also something very suspicious in all this discussion of private clouds…. private clouds are advocated mainly by companies who make their money from selling or operating data centers, and risk losing their shirts as real cloud computing drives more and more computing onto shared infrastructure.

That’s right, pack it in kids. You don’t need a data center anymore. You don’t need to store files locally, just put ‘em in the cloud. You don’t need to run any applications locally, just put ‘em in the cloud. You don’t need application integration, systems management, business activity monitoring, data mining services, or reports running locally. You don’t need an identity management infrastructure puppiesandrainbowsor control. You don’t need control over any of that “stuff”. Just put it all in the cloud and everything will be all better in the morning. We promise. And for a just a nominal fee, we’ll tell you how. If you call in the next 10 minutes (operators are standing by) we’ll throw in an entire month of compute cycles absolutely free (offer void where prohibited, cycles are limited, while availability lasts).

Now, Appirio “provides products and services that help enterprises accelerate their adoption of on-demand.” No, no conflict of interest there at all. No vested interest in ensuring that organizations adopt cloud right now before it blows away like so many other hyped technologies (SOA, Web 2.0, ESB). The arguments against private clouds sound pretty hollow when you consider the viewpoint and agenda behind the statement.

Anyone who’s watched the technology game for more than a few years knows how this whole cloud thing is going to play out: the same way SOA played out, and ESB played out, and Web 2.0 played out. It’s all exciting and new and right now everyone wants to play with it and oh, look at all the benefits and how there are no drawbacks! But eventually reality is going to come crashing down and like all major technology shifts the early adopters are going to start running into the turbulence in the cloud. Then we’ll sit down, buckle our seatbelts, and suffer through the bumps until we get through it and return to smooth flying. Along the way we’ll figure out where and how cloud best fits into our overall strategy and adjust accordingly.

That’s right, it’s not all puppies and rainbows, and we have yet to find all the bumps along the way. 

Management, integration, and process-oriented systems are not ready for cloud computing, and cloud  providers aren’t even considering these types of integrations and broader systems’ capabilities yet. It’s not even assured they will consider these necessities. I’ve heard a lot from cloud providers but I’ve never heard any of them claim they can replace your entire data center and its supporting software infrastructure right now.

The cloud is not ready to replace your entire data center. And it’s not likely to be ready until sometime in the next decade, if ever. We will soon see some applications moving into the cloud and most enterprises will take advantage of the cloud in some way, but it’s unlikely the “vast majority” will pick up and move en masse to the cloud. Even when it is ready for such a move we’re unlikely to see that kind of adoption rate.

The cloud model is a great one; we’ve been moving toward it for a long time. But the argument against private clouds (or whatever we’re going to call the adoption of cloud models locally) is not one based in any version of reality in which organizations necessarily must operate. 

I’ve heard some wild statements before in my time, but to claim that the vast majority of companies don’t need a data center any more not only takes the cake, it takes the icing and the plate it was served on.

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