Pressure from the cloud

No, we’re not talking meteorology here!

I have been keeping an interested eye on some of the developments from Amazon with their Amazon Web Services, so when I saw the following tweet from friend/colleague/troublemaker @MasterMark, it made me sit up!

Oh, dude! It’s a war, and cloud is a battlefield. #orcl swallows #sun, and days l8r, #ibm announces the end of licenses. http://is.gd/ueWt

He is referring to this article, announcing the availability of IBM technology in the cloud, running on AWS’  EC2 platform, with an innovative approach to licensing.

On Amazon EC2 you can run many of the proven IBM platform technologies with which you’re already familiar, ….. By choosing Amazon EC2, you can get started in either of two ways. You can pay by the hour only for what you use, through Amazon EC2 running IBM. Alternatively, you can bring many of your own IBM licenses to run on Amazon EC2.

This got me thinking of the impact that this could have on certain internal applications that suffer from performance and scalability issues. For example, global instances which see spikes as people come online across different timezones. Do you scale for the spikes, or the average load and take the performance hit during peak use?

Amazon’s EC2, combined with applications such as IBM’s Websphere Portal, is now giving the enterprise an interesting choice. Do we put the application server out in the cloud, and have the flexibility to scale up and down according to demand?

Yet many corporations are still wary of the cloud, preferring to keep things on the inside, under their watchful eyes. So how would a large organisation replicate and offer something capable of this internally? I imagine virtualisation would be at the heart of any attempt, but the investment required would be significant, if not exorbitant, both in infrastructure and software. Could they even get close to competing on cost, ease of administration, billing…?

When will we see new expectations – I’ll call them “cloud-induced” –  take hold in the enterprise, where factors such as flexibility, agility, almost-zero required investment, take an increasingly higher priority? It strikes me that it will rapidly become harder for IT departments to provide and manage internally-hosted solutions that meet user expectations, as awareness of the cloud’s capabilities grows in the business.

Think about it. All Amazon ask of us is a credit card number….

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