Cloud computing, becomes ‘computing’.

Lately I have been noticing an accelerating trend (albeit completely anecdotal) of web services starting to imitate one another. The followers start to look like the leaders, or they adopt the best practices proven by the leaders as their own, and these pretty soon become industry standards.

Take for example the meteoric increase in Facebook adoption, lead largely by their functionality entitled ‘News Feed’. Its basically a way of mashing everyone’s status updates into a rolling list of what is happening at any given moment amongst the network. One could argue that this was driven by Twitter and their own meteoric popularity, but Facebook certainly has owned the more comprehensive utilization of this technique. Two notable followers to adopt are Linkedin, and the increasingly popular Yammer. Even Salesforce.com has now joined the mix with a version of the same thing they call Chatter. My point is that the rolling news feed of status updates is starting to look very much like an industry standard.

This begs the question of whether IaaS cloud services will follow a similar adoption model? Is it the case that everyone will adopt the brand leader in the space (Amazon Web Services) in terms of their service delivery? Defining characteristics include: compute on-demand, paid for by the minute, storage per GB, accessible to all at a moments notice and a decided focus on low price. I would argue not and here is why…

Despite the interest and attraction to cloud services, there remain considerable barriers to adoption by conservative organizations deploying critical IT resources. We are not taking about status updates among friends here. Indeed, the information and systems involve potentially billions of dollars of enterprise value and information so sensitive that the complete destruction of the enterprise is not out of the question in case of significant data breach. Organizations like these are not driven purely by price, and certainly need significant assurances and verification of data privacy, security, locality, access, service levels and other factors.
Without beating up on the Goliath that is Amazon, their business model simply does not support the requirements of these organizations today. Public clouds like Amazon for all their benefits by definition do not seek to meet the requirements of what we term ‘risk intolerant organizations’. This is shown too by the whole scale adoption of public cloud services, to the tune of 10′s of thousands of servers for the most part serving data directly to Internet based consumers.

Risk intolerant organizations like law firms, financial services and others are looking for vendors that seek to understand their business, provide a level of service beyond lowest price, and provide absolute and verifiable assurance of data protection and privacy.

Does this mean that ‘community clouds’ like nScaled will not be inspired by the AWS model of rapid, cost effective and easy compute on-demand – not at all? But we believe there is a place in the world for clouds beyond lowest cost, public variety.