SimpleWan @ ITEXPO August 11-14

Stop by the SimpleWan booth #439 at ITEXPO in Las Vegas this year to see the unveiling of the new form factor hardware. Our newest cloud router will support dual core processing power, dual wan failover and native 4G support. This device will soon also support the ability to add a wireless access point.

Come by and visit us and see the new dashboard.

The End of Cloud Computing or Just the Beginning?

Could it be true? Are people are starting to call for the demise of ‘The Cloud’. According to a recent blog post “The End of Cloud Computing?” some companies are pushing the envelope of what it means to be ‘Cloud’ a little too far. The fact that you are reading this post probably means that this attitude does not come as a surprise. As almost anyone in the technology industry will tell you, “Cloud” has to be the most over-used term in our lexicon and it seems that almost everything can be ordered in a cloud-flavor these days.

The End of Cloud Computing?

The article in question was written as a response to another article written about Oracle and their recent ‘Private Cloud’ solution. That author, , writes about Oracle’s attempt to re-define what it means to be ‘Cloud’ and challenges the notion that their new Private Cloud product can even be considered cloud-based.

The article lays out the ‘Private Cloud’ as a managed hardware/software package that is physically installed at the customer’s location. The customer pays per usage and doesn’t have to maintain the equipment but one would presume that they must provide space, access, internet connectivity, and electricity. To be certain, this does not meet the ‘Cloud’ definition for Mr. Paul:

“The Oracle Private Cloud, just outsources that job to Oracle, which places its own infrastructure on the client’s premises, behind the client’s firewall. Because Oracle owns, maintains and upgrades that infrastructure, Ellison said, it’s still “the true cloud.”

No, it’s not.

Just because you pay for what you use by the month, it’s not the true cloud. It’s a set of dedicated outsourced resources.”

Putting a dedicated chunk of hardware and software on your site and calling it the cloud makes a mockery of the very concept of cloud computing — and eliminates cost-cutting through shared resources.

For purposes of full disclosure, I must admit that I work for a company that provides a networking service called vMPLS. This service is marketed as Private Cloud as a Service (PCaaS) so we benefit from the trendiness of ‘The Cloud’. We are also just as guilty of over-use of this term, which has led to a very ambiguous understanding of what is and what is not ‘Cloud’. Personally speaking, I feel that the term ‘Cloud’ has been abused over the past few years but I am intrigued every time I see a vendor re-market the term in a new way. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines ‘Cloud Computing‘ as: 

…a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. (Source)

The author of the original article, Frederic Paul, concludes:

Putting a dedicated chunk of hardware and software on your site and calling it the cloud makes a mockery of the very concept of cloud computing. (Source Article)

To that end, Brian Proffitt, writes his article foreseeing the finality of ‘Cloud Computing‘. It is his opinion that the shear overuse of the term ‘Cloud’ will lead to it’s inevitable downfall. The confusion surrounding the argument over what is and what is not ‘cloud’ is the norm, not the exception. That confusion leads to a statistic I found very interesting. According to the blog, only 16% of respondents think of a computer network when they hear the word ‘cloud’. It appears that mother nature may win the battle of the nouns because most people think of ‘fuzzy white things’ (29%), along with with: toilet paper, pillow, smoke, outer-space, cyberspace, mysterious network, unreliable, security, sadness, relaxed, overused, oh goody a hacker’s dream, storage, movies, money, memory, back-up, joy, innovation, drugs, heaven and a place to meet.

What are your thoughts? Is ‘Cloud’ here to stay or is it’s demise ahead?

What do you feel are the defining characteristics for ‘Cloud’? 

Cost of Downtime – Pay Now or Pay Later

A lot of people in telecommunications and technology hear the same thing from customers when they experience some form of downtime or outage, “Every minute I’m down costs me X amount of dollars!” Typically ‘X’ is a number that is exaggerated to make a point and attempt to escalate the issue, but it begs a simple question — how much does downtime really cost? 

An info-graphic put together by The Standish Group on behalf of HP (Source) breaks this data down to the minute based on the application type. For example, the cost of securities companies who lose access to trading software is over $4.3 Million Dollars per hour. The source article goes on to explain that unexpected downtime is part of doing business in 2012 and that companies should not ask themselves what would happen ‘if’ they have downtime, but rather what is their plan for ‘when’ they have that downtime. 

Infographic - How Much Does Downtime Cost

While the cost for securities companies is exorbitantly high, I found the Point of Sale cost to be more relevant to my world. I often work with retailers who have several branches who are looking to network them together, provide centralization, or simply utilize vMPLS to run their own Voice over IP (VoIP) solution. During the course of our conversation I always bring up redundancy/business continuity. With technology today it costs a couple dollars per day to ensure that a remote branch can continue to operate should their primary Internet connection or electricity fail. Most of the time I am told by these retailers that it’s just not worth the extra expense to ensure up-time. According to the info-graphic a single minute with the POS unavailable will cost almost $5,000; that same $5,000 in prevention would have provided more than 5 years worth of redundancy. 

If a company relies on the Internet or their Wide Area Network/Cloud to drive revenue towards the bottom line then it would certainly appear to me based on the info-graphic on this post that ensuring some type of fail-over or business continuity across the network is a very worthwhile investment. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Does your organization have Disaster Recovery plans built into their network topology? If the Internet were to go out for a day or two, what would that do to your organization?