One of our first meetings at VMworld was with BlueLock, who have the distinction of being one of a small handful of cloud service providers participating in VMware’s big vCloud Datacenter initiative. We spent a bit of time grilling Pat O’Day, BlueLock CTO, in their booth and learned some new things about the cloud value …
But then again....
the way that the Cloud is described in the article is based on using it like a traditional outsourcing environment, with all the existing limitations of the an existing outsourcing style deal e.g. customer only gets refunded a proportion of the monthly fees for missing a service level.
A limitation of outsourcing is that either the custome or the outsourcer needs to provide the DBAs, System Administrators, etc to manage the in-house systems. Cloud however removes that requirement in as much as the outsourcer whilst having to provide the resources only needs to do it for the datacentre instance and not for every single customer. The customer sees lower costs as does the outsourcer which makes the deal beneficial for both.
SLAs are not an issue, if you look real close at SLAs they are predominantly for availability, accessibility and or performance, uniquness is something driven by customer pride as opposed to reality since all customers want 99.999 uptime. However, the ideas around insurance do offer suppliers the chance to make service credits for misses SLAs more tightly aligned with the business lost today and that is something even traditional outsources may want to look at.
The other big advantage of the Cloud concept is that it offers the chance to bring down the costs of business continuity. If the application is available from two Cloud datacentres then the if only one instance is 'live' then the charges for the reserve would be lower as the resources consumed would be minimal. Business continuity today is expensive as firms have to pay for and maintain two critical systems even if only one of them is running.
Types of cloud
I'm a cloud architect for a large global IT outsource company. We have recently deployed our enterprise cloud, giving on-demand compute resource to our customers without the overheads associated with deployment. We are seeing a massive uptake of federated cloud resources (tied into the client network as an extension of their environment), rather than public cloud, for IaaS. As was stated in the article, there is a reluctance to place critical systems into a public cloud where there is no easy access to support or troubleshooting resource in the event of a problem.
We see the current cloud environments as a stepping stone from traditional IT outsourcing, but they're a long way from being a complete replacement for those traditional oursourced services at this time. A hybrid approach is often called for, with the IT outsourcer providing the cloud environment, or management tools to give a 'single pane of glass' view of the clients workloads and where they are hosted. Our systems support deployment to our clouds, the clients' clouds, and also to EC2/Azure if the client requires it. The public clouds parts are generally for zero commercial risk/value projects around test and development, where no client data is present and a breach would not impact their core business.
With the move to SOA, SLA is a key factor now in determining the overall responsiveness to the end user/business, ensuring that what they need is what is delivered. We are happy to commit to extended SLAs with out clients, but there is an associated cost to this, something that may cause the flexibility of the solution to become too expensive a luxury.