Ran across an interesting video where Larry Ellison rants about the use of the term “cloud computing”. To some extent, I agree with him, insofar as “cloud computing” is a rather vague, all-encompassing statement.
It is also true that companies such as salesforce.com and others have been offering their services for quite some time, and are lumped in when most folks talk about cloud computing.
However, where I perhaps disagree with Mr. Ellison (FWIW) is that cloud computing doesn’t describe anything new at all. I think the relatively new element that cloud computing describes is the use of virtualized systems that allow for the use of hardware infrastructure over many disparate computers (or other devices) in a seamless and scalable manner.
Thus, for example, while salesforce.com may have been around for a decade, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and other infrastructure service providers, as well as the type of technology that enables them (e.g. vSphere) are relatively new. Sure, there were always shared servers available, but until recently, I don`t know of anyone who, as a service provider, offered highly reliable and very scalable virtual private servers on levels exceeding what could be offered in a single box. If you wanted something like that, then the only thing that would be available were separate discrete boxes, proprietary clustering systems, or open source cluster systems (like Beowulf).
For SaaS, frankly it doesn`t really matter all that much – who cares how salesforce.com manages its back-end, so long as its customer are able to access its functionality.
Many of you probably have already heard about the Open Cloud Manifesto. It’s the document that was crafted by IBM in an attempt to enunciate some broad principles to make those who are considering a leap into the the warm, puffy, interoperable clouds (in contrast to their own cold, dark, dank and proprietary data centres) get a warm and fuzzy feeling.
I’ve taken a very cursory look at it. Meh. To me, as a lawyer, it comes across as marketing fluff. Nice marketing fluff, but fluff nonetheless. For example, principle no. 2 says “Cloud providers must not use their market position to lock customers into their particular platforms and limit their choice of providers.” What exactly does that mean? And why would it be limited to market position? Would this mean that vendors would be able to use other means to lock in customers, such as refusing to provide termination assistance services?
There is also the irony, as CNN has noted, that the manifesto itself was not the subject of an open or inclusive process. In addition, as reported in eWEEK, a number of leaders in the area (Microsoft, Amazon and Google) have not signed on, for one reason or another.
It will be interesting to see what the industry does with it. And even more interesting to see how it plays out when it comes to customers. For example, I’d be very interested in seeing the reaction of those who signed on if a customer asked that this manifesto be attached to their services agreement with a clause obligating the cloud services vendor to comply with and act, in the course of providing its services, consistently with the manifesto.