Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cloud IaaS: Sorry, not very Interesting

“There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness” – Henry David Thoreau

Don’t get me wrong. Infrastructure-as-a-Service is a wonderful, useful and logical development. I do not need to sing the praise of it here. I believe in it and I am sure that it will provide a growing, significant percentage of computing needs around the globe.

But, it is just not very interesting, although it is the rage in all IT circles and hype generators. The technologies that enable it are basically: high speed bandwidth, virtualization and sophisticated management software. Now, I do not belittle these technologies. They are the product of years of development of ingenious engineers and some fast acting companies that had the ability to put one and one together and come up with the offering. And kudos to Amazon Web Services on leadership, ideas and execution.

Still, I believe that it is the domain of the few, and although every datacenter and ISP out there is starting to offer a ‘cloud’ solution, the end result will be a few very large companies that are big enough to invest in a model that makes economic sense and are sophisticated enough to pull it through.
So what does that say for technological companies that are thinking of providing IaaS-enabling software or hardware? There will survive only a handful of those companies, since they will be competing in such a small market.

So why is it such a hype, and why is it burning like a bushfire in the Kalahari savannah, while it took almost a decade for SaaS to become mainstream? Because the idea of IaaS is very simple and straightforward. IT gets it. Any old CIO can understand the concept, because hardware is a commodity and has been for a long time. Because many enterprises have been hosting in co-los for decades, acting as if their hardware is in their datacenter.
Once you get over the fear of losing control and get through the blah-blah of security, the idea of IaaS is very simple, and therefore, not interesting.

SaaS on the other hand is all about Applications. And applications are not perceived as a commodity (although many of the non-core applications are beginning to assume that role – and that’s a good thing). Therefore, once the hype will run its course and the dust Clouds will settle, IaaS will become mainstream. Every enterprise will choose how much of its infrastructure will lay outside of its firewalls and to what extent it will use the flexibility of the solution. SaaS will still be the interesting item, since every ISV will offer an on-demand solution, and the competition will continue to generate innovation and breakthroughs.