2011 is long gone and I should have done this post last week. However, I still think it is relevant to highlight some changes in our thinking about the cloud that happened due to events in 2011. Whether many agree with me or not, I see 2011 as a year where cloud computing moved from hype phase to something which even enterprises started taking seriously. In the words of Forrester’s James Staten, the awkward teenage years are upon us now. Two events in 2011 helped shape the views of users towards cloud computing and this will prove to be critical in determining the evolution of the cloud computing market in the coming years. Since I decided not to do a prediction post in the beginning of this year (well, I did one much earlier), I can use this post to offer my thoughts on where I expect the market to go in the coming years. Both these events happened in April. I have ordered the events below to fit my storyline and not on the timeline of the events.
The first event that “clouded” our thinking last year was the AWS outage which disrupted the services of many startups running on Amazon EC2 (previous CloudAve coverage). While many startups had their services disrupted, some like Netflix didn’t have any issues because they designed their apps by taking into account possibilities such failures (an approach known as “design for failure”). As an analyst who advocates cloud services to enterprises, I don’t like to hear about such outages but I feel that it was a good wakeup call and helped flush out many cloudwashing arguments coming from some vendors as well as some public cloud advocates. During the hype phase of cloud computing (well, even in 2011), there was a notion advocated by some interested parties that cloud computing is a magic pill and once an organization moves their IT to the cloud, magic will happen and cure all the IT ills. AWS outage in April was the first serious wake up call that debunked this notion and made people realize that moving an app to the cloud required a complete rewrite of the app. Just taking a legacy app to Amazon EC2 won’t magically force the app do the scaling dance or make it highly available. This outage forced the organizations to rethink their cloud strategy and made cloud washing difficult.
CloudFoundry and Cloud Consumption
The other event that “clouded” our thinking was the release of CloudFoundry by VMware (previous CloudAve coverage). Though PaaS has been in existence even before many in VMware heard of the term and companies like Cumulogic (previous CloudAve coverage) were offering solutions targeted at enterprises, the announcement of CloudFoundry shifted the tech pundits attention towards PaaS as the consumption model over IaaS. In fact, I have been arguing (well, there are few others like Alistair Croll) that we should think beyond VM chunks and look for a more fluid like consumption model of cloud.
In our familiarity with servers and virtual machines, we shouldnât ignore the fact that Platform Services offers greater simplicity and helps users save time, money and other resources. It is time for developers to think beyond the finite chunks called servers and virtual machines and start thinking in terms of seemingly infinite âplatform compute resourcesâ. I am pretty sure Nick Carr will be smiling somewhere if he read this statement.
I think CloudFoundry brought this thinking to the mainstream (a.k.a enterprises) and made users realize that enterprises can offer their developers the same “developer experience” found in some startups tapping into the Herokus and Google App Engines of the world. The shift in the thinking about the enterprise cloud consumption also poured water into the “DevOps” concept advocated by vendors and pundits with their foot in the IaaS world. When organizations embrace PaaS instead of infrastructure services, we don’t need the DevOps marriage and the associated cultural change (believe me, this cultural change is giving sleepless nights to many IT managers and some consultants are even making money helping organizations realize this cultural change). With PaaS, organizations can keep the existing distinction between the Ops and Dev teams without worrying about the cultural change. In fact, with cloud computing, the role of the Ops is not going away but it stays in the background offering an interface which developers can manage themselves. In short, the release of CloudFoundry made “Forget DevOps, embrace the damn PaaS” the mantra for IT leaders in 2012.
One more thing
As I was finishing up, I realized that I didn’t follow the social norm followed by other bloggers. Yeah, wishing all the CloudAve readers a very happy and “cloudy” 2012.