back to article Let the Cloud Developer Wars begin

Microsoft is all for the cloud, says chief executive Steve Ballmer. IBM has its new Smart Business Cloud. Oracle has its Exalogic cloud in a box. Amazon’s cloud services are growing apace. Salesforce.com and Google have always been cloud. The economic arguments are unassailable. Economies of scale make cloud computing more cost …

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Thumb Up

Nice summary.

I have to say, though, that Ellison's argument is a trifle disingenuous. He could just as well say banks are unsafe because “Thousands of customers co-mingle their money in the same exact bank. It’s really a very weak security model.”

The underlying data store is shared, yes. That's what multi-tenancy means. But it's only at a very low level that the user never, ever gets to see. Even the admins running the SaaS platform never access the data at that level. That'd be somewhat akin to editing a Word document by tweaking individual disk blocks.

Anyone might think he had some different platform to sell...

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Linux

OpenStack anyone?

I like that Steve Ballmer loves Azure, he should, that's obvious. I love his Midas touch.

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Grenade

I stopped reading...

at this point : "Lock-in is a risk with any cloud computing model but most acute with SaaS because you cannot move your application to another provider."

Sorry but that could be said of any piece of software. Not just any 'cloud computing model'.

and on the earlier sentence "One is that the application is fixed, so if you need some new feature you have to beg the cloud provider to modify it for you, or write a separate application and try to integrate it, or do without."

Sorry but most "cloud" applications are continuously updated if the cloud resides with the provider, if the cloud is deployed on customer' servers, it would be their choice as to whether they update or not like their previous IT deployment strategies OR allow continuous updates from provider's server if the provider has built such mechanisms.

I've found theReg's articles on cloud since you guys started 'reporting' cloud somewhat misleading and it seems like not a lot of thought had been put into what's being said.

But I guess the word cloud is flung around too much now-a-days, it was invented by marketing but really it just means inter-connected computing.

Thus I end with a conclusion that I think this article had been a waste of time. As it really reads 'Let the web developer war begin'. Or if you want an analogy in reality, 'Let star wars begin' and asking readers to place their bet on which organization will eventually dominate the universe.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: I stopped reading...

Dismiss away, but lots of time, thought, effort, money, talent, research and editorial oversight are going into our Cloud articles.

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Beg to differ

Well I thought the article is one of a very few I've seen that actually explain, thoroughly, what 'cloud' means exactly. As for SaaS, that's not entirely true.

If you're using salesforce.com for example you can't just migrate to a homegrown solution running on google app engine without losing all your existing data on salesforce.com. On the other hand if you have a homegrown application running on some virtual machine on amazon's EC2 or similar, you _can_ migrate it to another provider.

Thumbs up for the reg

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Slight whiff of FUD; not too strong though...

Sorry Zef, but no. You could have all your Salesforce.com-hosted data zipped up and delivered to your servers any time you like; the process can easily be automated. Not in the least difficult. They're your data, after all.

What you couldn't do would be reproduce all the functionality that Salesforce.com provides on another platform*; that is the value-add that they bring to the table, and why so many organisations consider them more than worth the subscription fee.

If you've built your own software stack hosted on a cloudy VM, then you're free to host that VM on any cloud-based provider's hardware (assuming image compatability) but you're still responsible for supporting the whole software stack yourself, negotiating responsibility for outages, failover handling etc between you and the service provider(s).

This may be your idea of a good time, but in many applications it's difficult to justify when you realise that there are other people who are more than capable of doing it far better for far less.

*Okay, you could. But you'd essentially be reproducing Salesforce.com's development budget for your own private use, losing their economy of scale and making all kinds of additional, unnecessary rods for your own back. Why put yourself through that?

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Silver badge

Really?

"The economic arguments are unassailable. Economies of scale make cloud computing more cost effective than running their own servers for all but the largest organisations."

I'm not so sure the economic arguments are that unassailable - just ask some companies that suffered during the Amazon outage. It may well provide a benefit when you're just starting out as a business in that you can get some scale without the headaches, but being master of your own destiny is priceless.

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Go

App Engine is Ready for Business

I run my business on Appengine - with a standard account. The business account is really only necessary if you need HTTPS or cannot easily translate your SQL data to the datastore.

Appengine has been running for several years now, and I think it's fair to say that most of the kinks have been ironed out now. I couldn't in good conscience advise anyone to use the other PaaS offerings unitl they've been battle-hardened for a couple of years.

I'll bet it was a sysadmin who said "Being master of your own destiny is priceless". We can't afford to hire sysadmins as good as Google's, so when something breaks I'm comfortable that Google will fix it faster than anyone we could have hired. And things don't break that often either - I can't remember the last unscheduled outage that affected our service on Appengine.

The other huge benefit with PaaS is scalablility. I'd love to hear what the master of his own destiny says when his site gets mentioned on Oprah! An Appengine user showed a graph the other day of their traffic spiking from 5 to to 900MBs for ten minutes, with Appengine automatically spinning up extra instances to handle it. The best part is he only paid for the extra instances for those ten minutes.

So unless you are the stock exchange, you'll probably be quite happy with the uptime - and even happier with what you're paying for an infinitely scalable service.

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FAIL

Agree with Mark 65 but for different reasons

"The economic arguments are unassailable. Economies of scale make cloud computing more cost effective than running their own servers for all but the largest organisations."

Economies of scale do mean that running a cloud infrastructure datacenter is probably less costly than running all of the smaller subsets in isolation, although remember that from an accounting standpoint at lot of the costs of running your own infrastructure relating to buildings and their upkeep etc are fixed and so wouldn't be included directly in the cost of running the infrastructure locally but are when running a cloud platform as the supplier has to roll the datacentre's operational costs into the price of the service, the plain fact of the matter is that cloud platforms aren't being hosted for free (for any serious requirement anyway) and therefore the supplier has to make their margin on it as well.

This means that often a lot, sometimes even all, of the cost savings introduced by the scale of the infrastructure are offset by the charge from the supplier.

I do think that there are a lot of benefits to be had from moving to cloud services in many instances, support, availability and resilience, DR to name but a few, however cost is so marginal I would never put that right up front when trying to sell cloud services into a potential opportunity.

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing can possibly go wrong... wrong... wrong...

"The economic arguments are unassailable".

Until they're not, that is.

You might as well say that the economic arguments for not buying insurance are unassailable. Ambrose Bierce (not a man to trifle with) certainly thought so.

http://tinyurl.com/6bocjpp

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Anonymous Coward

The essentials

The essentials of the cloud computing controversy are two competing impulses: saving time/money/effort, and fear/caution.

The argument for cloud computing, boiled down, says roughly, "Why go to the trouble of choosing, buying, installing, connecting, maintaining, and fixing computers and networks when you can just hire it done by experts? You don't grow your own food/build your own car/teach your own children, do you? Just get rid of all the hassle, and let us do it all for a modest monthly fee".

The argument against says, "If your apps and data are important to you, why would you surrender control of them to someone you don't even know, using unspecified equipment and staff in an unspecified place? The only thing you do know about them is that their only reason for being in this business is to make stacks of money - which means they have to charge you more than their services are worth".

IMHO there is no adequate analogy that casts any useful light on the cloud decision. (And I'm a great one for analogies usually). Gas and electricity are completely different, because they are undifferentiated commodities. Even phone service just provides pipes to talk down and switches to choose whom you talk to. Computers can do pretty well anything you can think of, as long as it can be rigorously specified through algorithms. It's a very big leap of faith to say that you are prepared to trust some complete stranger, motivated purely by the profit motive, with something as potentially vital as that.

If you have a few hours to spare, like thrillers, and have an open mind then I advise reading Michael Connelly's "The Scarecrow" to get some idea of what the worst case could be. Sure, it's sensational - but I couldn't find anything impossible, or even implausible, in his scenario.

http://tinyurl.com/4xqclha

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Headmaster

Not quite.

"...which means they have to charge you more than their services are worth..."

No. They have to charge you more that their services *cost them* to provide.

Their "worth"; the value to the consumer, is how much it would cost the consumer to provide the same services themselves. Very different.

The reason why cloud makes sense in many situations is that there's a significant gap between the two, and that's why service providers CAN make money while saving their customers money compared with the alternatives. Make sense?

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