Cloudy Future

I first heard the terms “Enterprise Cloud” and “Private Cloud” back when I was running Infoplex.  For the uninitiated Infoplex is a managed infrastructure provider.  Back when “cloud” really broke we were selling managed VM environments, managed storage/backups, geo-replicated data and we even built out our own private MPLS network across Australia to guarantee customers would stay on our “private network”. 

My thoughts back then were the same as they are now, the concept of a company building out its own infrastructure and managing that is rubbish.  The entire concept of “Private Cloud” is so stupid it doesn’t make sense.  It is a marketing term created by Cisco, EMC and VMWare to position their products as “current” when clearly they are losing relevance.

Cloud is about scale and commodity.  In many respects it is all about the “race to the bottom” when it comes to infrastructure.  More importantly, it is a bell weather, a change in mindset, it is about making the infrastructure unimportant and an afterthought.  That’s not a very promising scenario for the companies above, all of whom earn some of the highest margins in the technology industry.

Take Cisco this week and their major announcement that they said would change the internet forever.  They effectively announced that their new highest end routers had been re-designed, given a new model number, been optimised for video and were now faster.  The product is called the CRS-3 or Carrier Routing System – which basically means its designed for carriers and the backbone of the internet.  This announcement was utterly irrelevant to the average user, but unfortunately Cisco can’t seem to understand their new place in the world.

The other one I’m keeping my eye on this week is Brian Madden’s VDI Shootout.  I’ve been watching the tweets flying around about all of the issues they are having with the various technologies.  Wyse Terminals and drivers and streaming desktops hosted on backend server farms – *YAWN*.  What a nightmare?  If you’re the average IT Manager with a limited budget and you could invest in VDI or moving your systems to the web, what’s the better investment?  Sorry to the VDI fans, but the web has you beaten hands down.  VDI is the answer to a question nobody asked.  I would say in EVERY instance if an application has a web-based alternative, it is a better solution than VDI.

Companies do not care about the underlying infrastructure that houses their systems, they care about accessing the information and storing it safely.  I defy anyone to objectively look at things like Amazon EC2, Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, Engine Yard, Heroku or Rackspace Cloud and tell me that it is honestly a better solution to be buying network hardware, servers and underlying OS software then installing it all and managing that entire menagerie.  I just can’t see how its possible.


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