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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Mark White, CTO Of Deloitte (Part 8)

Posted on Thursday, Sep 2nd 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Saurabh Mallik

SM: What are your thoughts about data residing in different places? Is there a barrier to adoption? Let’s say you put your data in China or somewhere that is questionable from the buyer’s point of view. Is this an issue that’s coming up?

MW: Absolutely. I don’t know if we have ever talked about it, but for my day-to-day duties in the federal marketplace, that’s a huge issue. You can’t send the information offshore. I can’t send any of the artifacts, designs, or code offshore, much less the data. So, geography is an easy one to talk about. We can talk about many different types of regulatory boundary, but geography is a great one to start with. It matters in terms of what can run where, what can reside where, and what can transit where, so cloud service providers have to be able to partition appropriately. It’s export protection, and you can’t send algorithms outside the country. We deal with that now if I am a provider for cloud storage services. My business model, the reason why I can provide a reasonable service at a reasonable price, is that data can be sent wherever it’s best stored. If you come to me as a customer and say, I will subscribe to your service if you don’t send my data outside the continental United States, then I as a provider have to go check my business model and decide if my business model can withstand this demand.

SM: Yes. My question is, Are we equipped to do stuff like that? It can become quite complex. Let’s take an example of a storage service provider that is catering to an enterprise that has a globalized workforce which is working on, let’s say, CAD files in Germany, China, India, and so forth. So, there is data and there are going to be files that need to be moved around the world, but at the same time the files cannot be moved based on a certain number of algorithms. It’s very complex!

MW: You are right. The global enterprise has that problem whether it is inside the enterprise or in the cloud.

SM: Yes, but it is now a many-to-many permutation and higher order problem to do it as a service provider than as a custom solution.

MW: I concur. Let me stand in the shoes of a subscriber, and then I am going to stand in the shoes of a provider. As a subscriber, it’s more complex because you need to have risk and control frameworks. When I turn around and use the speed to solution, the cost to solution, and simplicity of organization expertise in the cloud, I may not have the complete transparency. So I am going to have to deal with that and, hence, it is an issue of scale. Let me stand in the shoes of a service provider. It is a minicommittee, and that’s a great way to characterize the many relationships now because I have to make sure that the business model and the interpretation and provisioning of my services can satisfy my cost to produce and the SLAs (service level agreements) and other constraints of my subscribers. What we are seeing are cloud service providers walking you away from deals because the cloud service providers are more economical. Cloud service providers, both niche and large players, are trying very hard to figure out this issue of how do I deal with this segmentation of geography and intelligence. The issues we dealt with before the cloud are now the issues we are dealing with the cloud, which is the difference in scale and the difference in transparency and granularity.

SM: This gives us a good transition into entrepreneurship opportunities. Describe unsolved, semi-solved, or poorly solved issues we were discussing, such routing and many-to-many partitioning. Do you see these as areas of entrepreneurship?

MW: I do, in two different ways. Actually, we already talked about one that is if you look at the startups today. Even though startups are not trying to be cloud service providers, they are taking advantage of the cloud to reduce their capex and get to the solution faster. That’s definitely enabling entrepreneurship. I think you were targeting people who are cloud service provider entrepreneurs and people who are cloud service enabler entrepreneurs.

This segment is part 8 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Mark White, CTO Of Deloitte
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