By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
JS: This applies regardless of whether I think about clouds in terms of internal operations or I think about them as I imagine other enterprises would think about cloud computing – meaning how we should position this to our customers.
JS: As I thought about this over the past year or so, my view is that we have something of a perfect storm of activities happening now. The cloud is creating all of these opportunities, and there is also the hype that you mentioned in your questionnaire for this interview. So, there are opportunities in the cloud, and there is also hype around cloud computing. The question is, Why now? Why is this entire craze happening now? As you know, leaders in the fields of computing technology have been talking about “network comput[ing]” for the past 10 or 15 years. Why is all of this activity happening now? As I stand back and try to understand these trends, what I see happening are a few things. One is that whether you are looking on the wireless side with something such as LTE [Long-Term Evolution (3GPP 4G technology)]; at the home with something such as FiOS or fiber to the home; or at the enterprise space where we have 100-gigabyte circuits and backbone and so forth, we are arriving at a place where there is almost infinite bandwidth available. Well, infinite is a big word, but let’s say extraordinary amounts of bandwidth are now available on a pervasive basis. It is pervasive; it doesn’t matter where you are.
SM: That’s right; at least in the United States, this is true.
JS: That is true, although, some countries are actually ahead of us in terms of bandwidth.
JS: That is certainly true. So, if you asked 10 or 15 years ago whether that kind of ubiquitous access to extremely high bandwidth would be available, the answer would be no. So, things have changed. Second, primarily because of the phenomenon of mobility, there is an expectation on the part of the user community, the customers, the population, that this kind of hyper-connectivity will be there. They want to be connected all of the time today.
JS: Sometimes we call the it consumerization of IT, but that is looking at it from inside an enterprise perspective. But it does matter from where you look, whether you are looking at it from [the point of view of] a consumer in the home or an employee in a company. There is an implicit consumer expectation today that I can and should be connected all the time, and I should be connected over a high bandwidth, which translates into, “I don’t feel any pain,” and I want access to whatever is available. Consumers want access to their data, access to videos, access to pictures, and access to all applications. People are intolerant of the idea that there could be a place and time where they don’t have access at all times. If you had asked this question 10 or 15 years ago, whether [people wanted this], the answer would have been no. Again, things have changed.
The third leg of this stool is from an enterprise perspective. There is an enormous and relentless pressure to decrease our costs. It doesn’t matter how much we decrease our cost of providing IT services; every year the pressure gets greater. Of course, that is driven by a lot of phenomena, not the least of which is that customers expect to pay increasingly less for a lot of these services, not increasingly more. So, IT organizations like mine are constantly struggling with how we bring down the overall cost structure of our operation. The fourth and final aspect is the availability of virtualization technology that again didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago in the way it does now.
So, you have users’ expectations of hyper-connectivity, ubiquitous access, and very high bandwidth, and they just come to the table with that expectation. Also, on the other side of the equation, the delivery side, you have the availability of virtualization technology, you have a lot of bandwidth, and you have unrelenting pressure to decrease costs. Perhaps I am just stating the obvious, but to me it is this constellation of things that is driving all of the energy around cloud computing today.
SM: That was a very good high-level summary! I see there is one conflict in the two sets of expectations you mentioned. I am going to let you continue, but I want to ask more about these after you are done.
JS: OK, let me guess: Is it security?
SM: No. It is unlimited bandwidth and its availability at the lowest possible cost. I think that at some point this equation starts to get wacko. Is that correct?
JS: I agree.