Cloud computing may save the universe, but it won’t be saving the enterprise’s universe any time soon. At least that’s what I’ve gathered over the months of reading and hearing about cloud computing ad nauseam. The enterprise needs security, reliability, manageability, etc. and these are not available in the cloud today. I’m a bit puzzled. When did the “cloud” inside the enterprise become so resilient, manageable, and secure?
I won’t argue that solutions like Amazon’s EC2, Google’s App Engine, Microsoft’s Azure, Salesforce.com’s Force.com, etc. are ready for the enterprise today. What I will argue against is this perception that services within an enterprise’s internal IT control are superior in almost every way to the cloud computing alternatives. For example, an eWeek article from July 2008 on hosted email and considerations that should be made in regards to reliability:
It’s important to evaluate the processes that potential hosted e-mail providers have in place for ensuring reliability, to discuss the sort of SLAs (service-level agreements) with which these providers are prepared to back their offerings, and to see how these provisions and guarantees stack up against what you are prepared to provide in-house.
Solid advice. Do we do the same for email hosted internally? When gMail or other popular hosted email solutions go down it’s a crisis that gets publicized like no other. Next time email at work goes down, be sure to check TechCrunch, CNet, and other tech publications for further info. I understand the scale of email in the cloud has no comparison, even compared to the enterprise. The enterprise might be talking hundreds of thousands of users, while email by Google, Yahoo!, and others is measured by the millions of users, hundreds of millions even. But, if email goes down within a company it is no less problematic for those users.
I think expectations need to be re-examined in regards to cloud computing. I hate the hype around the cloud as much as anyone, but let’s not pretend all is good with services provided behind the corporate firewall. Compare realities, not false perceptions.