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The clouds dark lining

Jack Loo | June 8, 2008
Cloud computing is hailed as a wonderful concept, but all is not rosy in its development.

Cloud computing has been hyped as the biggest thing ever to happen in the IT industry. Controversial researcher Nicholas Carr based his latest book on it and web companies Amazon and Google are offering related services.

CIOs like what they have seen with the promise that cloud computing can ease the burden having to deal with more infrastructure, middleware and contracts. 

Think cloud computing as a set of elastic services where one can take advantage of vast amount of resources on the Internet, and choose to scale up or down the amount of usage, described David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research. He was speaking at the Gartner Emerging Trends & Technologies Roadshow in Singapore.

However, not everything is rosy with cloud computing. There are several issues that could set back progress and adoption. It is not about going out tomorrow and put your business on and everything will be wonderful, he warned.

The biggest problem probably comes from the area of service management. We are exactly the same mistake that we made at least two or three other times in the course of computing history, the most recent one being the client-server. The concept of using PCs and resources was enticing but people did not realise that all these have to be managed, said Cearley

Managing service levels

But service management in the space of cloud computing is relatively unknown today. How am I going to manage service levels as well as quality of service and control across these disparate entities? he asked.

He does not believe it is possible to just take processes of ITIL and apply them in cloud computing. There are different technologies, constraints, security issues, amount of control. There are new inventions and tools that, even as we speak, vendors and academic institutes are promoting.

Availability is another area that needs to be closely examined as it is not a one-size-fit-all solution. High availability for stateless workloads, such as web server processes should do be easy to achieve but stateful workloads, like database transactions, could be a concern. You may need to look at your server processes to manage these and lay additional complexities on top of it, said Cearley.

Scalability could become an issue. Parallel processing models like delivery of Internet services would particularly well suited, he said. The more traditional workload like sequential processing may be of a different story altogether, he added.

Workload scalability question

The idea of scalability for all types of workloads is not yet proven, even though there are instances where financial companies are exploring ways in delivering fairly sophisticated functions in a highly scalable environment, Cearley explained.


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