Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Cloud - Likely to bite you on the arse

I overheard an interesting discussion today between some application guys (who are purely fictional) , they were saying that they had spoke to another respected Application bod from another company at a recent networking meet up who are currently using cloud services for application services, they then proceeded to say they will be looking to engage with a cloud provider currently offering a Cloud Application based service currently in beta (which is also fictional as this one works ;), additionally one of the fictional guys said they could see excellent benefits that can be reaped by turnkey production environment roll outs and development environments that can be built up on demand in the "Cloud".

I'm sure this type of conversation alone is enough to put the fear of god into any Infrastructure bod, from my stand point yes its scary to hear this stuff, however the context and goal for this post is I am only concerned with the issues and approach on how cloud is being adopted and not what the Cloud replaces, I am an advocate of Cloud and this type of talk should be embraced in IT departments and between teams. I do worry though when I hear this type of discussion as it means cost and IT budget goes to waste when it should be being invested using the correct methodology and process to implement new solutions into organisations. My immediate thoughts with a conversation like this is if cloud adoption is approached in this manor it has potential dangerous consequences for IT departments as a whole. My concern with this type of "shortcutting" lie with a possible emergence of business application peeps being blinded by the cloud marketing vendor hype, and being blinded like moths to a lamp in the way that the actual cloud providers are making the service offerings seem relatively simple to adopt for applications you currently have.

Most Infrastructure guys will know that for years we have had to implement and design around poorly written and designed application stacks, and yes this isn't just bespoke apps it includes COTS and proprietary middleware/databases that we now struggle to virtualise and avoid having excessive server sprawl from by having to employ strategy such as one app per server whether virtual or physical. So enter into our lives the cloud provider that can offer the opportunity to Change current deployment process for business applications and services, bypass any current Infrastructure design authority and the people that make the engine run today that supports the current bloated app stack. All seems so easy doesn't it, it would do to an application bod, they tend to think differently and approach IT differently to Infrastructure types. This is one of the reasons why we struggle to sell server virtualisation to application bods, they want platforms that provide above and beyond and not just "enough" workload, they simply don't understand consolidation and to be honest why would they?

If application peeps approach a Cloud strategy in the strategy that I explained I think it will no doubt end up being great for the cloud providers but I feel this will end up being bad for the organisations who adopt it in such a blase manor. My reasons to suggest this are around the fact that we still have many current unanswered questions on Cloud in Enterprises, and the fact that cloud is still at the bleeding edge stage of the adoption curve.

Using the Cloud without ensuring that you have a finely tuned hosted application may actually mean services could (and I say could) end up longer term being more expensive due to the way that Infrastructure is used to cover up for sloppy Software configuration in Private infrastructure today. If public cloud services are used to host current "dodgy" bloated apps that consume excessive network and sucks CPU cycles then knock yourself out but be prepared if an application is being used on a pay per use metered basis, it will need to be lean and mean, you cannot simply migrate like for like and assume that the app and associated processes and dependencies on that app will provide the cost savings cloud touts.

As I've said this is a basic overview of why I feel the Cloud may bite anybody who is looking to move current application services into the cloud well and truly on the arse. When cloud services are mature and accepted within enterprises it will no doubt offer significant benefits to being hosted within the metered shrink and grow environment, however applications need to change and the way we architect systems will need to change, and this strategy is not as you will have found with Virtualisation adoption something that can happen over night, this could take years.

Which leads me onto the Vmware cloud strategy and fully optimized stacks which may emerge with the Springsource acquisition....hey I couldn't have a post without a vendor name drop, maybe another post at a later point in time ;)


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