The cloud: myth(s) and fact(s)
Before we start, a brief definition…
In a nutshell, the cloud is the concept of using the internet for the remote hosting of IT apps. The secret to cutting costs? The global scale effect. Salespeople present the cloud as a service that will radically change our relation to IT infrastructure: sign up for an IT solution like you’d sign up with an electricity provider! These same salespeople even claim that it will cut costs for businesses by a factor of five: it’s a subject worth looking at more closely!
Myth 1: the cloud is free and just as good as the server I used to pay for
Nobody would deny that the internet has changed our lives: we have easy access to a growing number of services free of charge (or almost). And all this thanks to recognised public cloud providers: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or Facebook to quote just the best known names. Public cloud providers are useful for people setting up a (small) company: no point investing in my own infrastructure when I can use solutions available at global level!
Fact: the cloud is (almost) free and for small companies, it’s as good as a pay service!
Myth 2: in the near future, all corporate data will be hosted on the internet
Does the cloud offer a good deal for large companies? Several questions need to be looked at before we can give an answer: do we gain in terms of quality and cost? What about information security?
The cloud, in its current form, is based on public Internet standards: a network financed by public subsidies, telecoms operators, advertising, etc. Add to that the obligatory and standardised development tools and we can see that we’re a very long way from the hyper-personalised solutions found in companies today. However, all this is set to change in the next few years: service customisation and security will not be obstacles for large companies.
However, one major point is rarely mentioned in discussions on the cloud: large companies have a history, IT apps developed using a wide range of technologies over the past fifty years. And most of these technologies are incompatible with the constraints of standardisation enforced by suppliers! Today, 95% of existing apps cannot be transferred to the cloud. As a result, if we want to transfer these data to the cloud, we would need to develop new apps, and the fivefold reduction in cost would start to look increasingly unlikely …
Fact 1: the cloud still has some way to go in terms of security and personalisation to make it suitable for large companies.
Fact 2: the cloud will only truly become a go-to solution for large companies when it takes account of their history.
My belief: the business cloud will be a private and personalised cloud
The private cloud offers (and will continue to offer) a number of advantages. First, it is no more expensive than the public cloud. Internet is the same for everybody! Moreover, home servers are sold with virtually no margin. Whether you buy one thousand or one million has little impact on price. This is a significant advantage since companies will be able to choose technical environments that are compatible with their history and existing apps. An illusion? No, since companies that have already made this choice have slashed their infrastructure costs by a factor almost five.
Will suppliers building giant IT centres be able to find customers? I have to admit that I’m slightly sceptical. How about you?