I am troubled by the failure to find a single cloud critic during a six month immersion in the cloud ecosystem. I have yet to hear of a single large scale cloud deployment disaster. The several and growing cloud conferences have an eerie Jim Jones everyone loves cloud vibe. This seems odd given the supposed transformative nature of cloud computing, but it is consistent with a cloud industry that remains 99% theory and 1% practice.
The issue is not even a matter of defining what cloud means. Cloud has become synonymous with “future of computing”, so there should at least be serious discussions weighing the future of computing. A host of issues need to get addressed before everyone can live happily ever after in the cloud computing future. The absence of a consensus measure of compute resources noted previously needs to get resolved but other issues come to mind. For example, how does the cloud model effect the legacy compute tasks running (not always happily) via an on-premise compute model. Let’s admit the cost of moving legacy apps to the cloud means re-architecting and re-working the code.
Where are the debates about whether servers designed for standalone deployment will meet the unique needs of virtualization? Where is the discussion about virtualization overhead costs or the fact server virtualization undermines motherboard level processor optimizations? Where is the discussion about performance hits that make virtualization a problem for real-time applications like VoIP?
Amazon’s EC2 represents the poster child of cloud computing, but Amazon’s revenues represent less that 1% of the overall IT spend. 1% does not make for a IT industry transformation. No one can dispute the hourly model makes Amazon EC2 an excellent sandbox for software development, but does EC2 host any large scale mission critical applications? Amazon’s internal needs even given large scale do not rank high among the the full spectrum of enterprise compute needs. The fact Amazon does not feel compelled to reduce prices over four years reflects a model more like an electric utility than the IT industry.
The promised cloud cost benefits rely heavily on the theory cloud deployments can run at high levels of utilization and more closely follow the demand curve. There is very little discussion of how to turn this theory into practice. Amazon may benefit from higher utilization of a diverse user load, but the failure to reduce prices in leaves their customers without benefits. A customer can create and destroy instances to match a variable load, but turing this from theory to practice would require implementation of automation that would not be free.
Let’s go ahead and stipulate that the “theory” of cloud computing looks great and start focusing resources on converting the theory into practice and admit the transformation will not be painless.