It is no secret that carriers are moving into the cloud computing market at a rapid pace. Already in 2011 there have been two major acquisitions of data center companies and more are sure to follow. There will be a number of significant strides in the cloud space over the coming months but as a precursor to those, I’d like to talk about what I mean by cloud technologies, where I think this space is headed and why PAETEC is very excited about the future .
Pinning down the cloud
“A style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ to external customers using Internet technologies.” – Gartner
“A standardized IT capability (services, software, or infrastructure) delivered via Internet technologies in a pay-per-use, self-service way.” – Forrester
My view is that cloud computing isn’t so much about a specific technology as it is changing the way customers do business and think about their IT infrastructure. The goal of cloud computing is to abstract away the details of specific parts of the IT stack from the customer and create a utility that can be consumed as the customer requires. This utility model can be applied at different layers of the computing stack – from base infrastructure all the way up to complete applications – depending on what specific level of abstraction the customer wants. For leading telecommunications and managed services providers, the idea and delivery of additional IT infrastructure components as a service comes very naturally.
Why am I excited?
Of course cloud computing has been a hot topic for several years and yet the majority of enterprise IT services simply are not delivered this way. This is not to say that no one uses cloud services. On the contrary, cloud adoption has been significant in specific parts of the market such as startups and enterprise departments creating new, green field applications. Yet on the whole, enterprise applications continue to be delivered from within enterprise data centers.
So, why are Carrier’s so excited about a category of product that, quite frankly, few customers use today? I believe cloud computing is following the classic model of a disruptive technology. Disruptive technologies always begin not by being better than existing technology but by being simpler, less expensive and more convenient. At the outset, disruptive technologies are deficient on a feature basis and forced to gain their foothold on the margins, in less demanding markets. However, once this foothold is gained, rapid innovation occurs and the disruptive technology quickly catches up to the needs of more demanding customers while maintaining cost and convenience advantages over the legacy technology that rapidly drive it to extinction/ obsolescence.
This is precisely the process that is unfolding within the cloud computing market, particularly the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market. Cloud infrastructure solutions have been nibbling away at the edges of the IT market – first adopted by capital constrained startups and small businesses and more recently departments within larger businesses looking for a solution for specific projects. These solutions are now on the cusp of crossing over and becoming a serious competitor (or supplement) to the traditional in-house IT data center model.
Written by Alex Foster here