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The Cloud – Is it really any different?

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I have always been a big believer that ‘the cloud’ is marketing lingo. I can understand how ‘cloud computing’ is an exciting new phenomena but certainly not ‘the cloud’. Even ‘cloud computing’ is not that new. However, how you do business using the benefits on offer today in the hosting world matters.

Let me explain…

cloud-computing

[image source]

“The cloud" is the Internet. Think about it – everyone has their definition about what it is, but at the crux of it, it is a group of machines parts of which can be leveraged for various benefits such as hard drive space, computing power, etc.

Cloud computing or shared hosting on the other hand is a bit more specific on how you can use combined power of various machines. I used the term shared hosting, for shared space deliberately to help you understand that ever since the Internet started, people have always had shared hosting – so again, this is not a completely new phenomena.

What is new is the commoditization of costs associated with computing (space or resources). Now you can be billed by the minute for CPU, by the GB for space and so on. This is more of a recent introduction in the past 2+ years and now everyone is on the bandwagon. Believe me, I mean everyone.

Last week, I visited Bangkok for the World Hosting Day conference in Asia. It had a lot of large and key players in the online infrastructure world. The theme of this conference was the cloud and everyone was talking about it. I was actually bit surprised given that these were industry veterans coming together to talk about the revolutions in the hosting world.

What I realized later in the conference was for Asia, packing hosting as a ‘cloud’ was still new.

Not to mention, there is a large push that has come from various organisations to call this new environment, a cloud. So now that you have a better understanding on where the hosting world sits, I learnt a few things last week I would like to share.

My learning is given the current market mood, it is not about picking whether you should get a new ‘Cloud Provider’ but what you should watch out for when you are picking one:

  1. The basic underlying principles for your work requirements are still the same. Regardless of where your data sits and how much processing power you need, it can happen off-site or on-site. It still comes down to the ‘cost’.
  2. Security is important, but the cloud is not as bad as it is made out to be. Data today can move across the world hassle-free. Sure there are more risks, but good cloud providers are aware of these risks and are doing everything they can to mitigate such risks.
  3. If you are going to jump in, phase in. Settle in, don’t just jump in. Understand cost benefits, risks and start with less important things. If you see various benefits in outsourcing with less important things, you can slowly start migrating the more critical data and processes.

At the end of the day, the cloud is as much a business support idea as hosting is. Not much has changed; simply the new marketing lingo with it has brought new perceptions.

If you make rational decisions like everything else in business, you are unlikely to go wrong.

Your thoughts are welcome!

  1. […] people who do not understand it, talk about it (and hilariously so…). While some believe that cloud computing is no different than traditional internet hosting, others swear by […]

  2. Ruchir Punjabi says

    Thanks all,

    As I said in the article, I don’t deny ‘cloud computing’ as a technology has merit. Having been in this space for 10 years, the main move from the way I look at it is from just using shared space to complete sharing of computing infrastructure. In fact, I do believe commoditising CPUs, local/long term memory in a VPS or non-VPS model is useful for the end user and can offer substantial benefits in the way we look at Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

    From my perspective the main difference is that this use was happening anyway with a lot of web applications using the knowledge and best-practice architecture at the time for max efficiency. This architecture has slowly evolved to where it is today, now available for everyone. However, it is largely with new marketing lingo that is creating undue resentment and/or excitement.

    The point of the article is to guide people to understand the core merit of using the new cost and understanding the IaaS model as opposed to getting bogged down/excited about the technology because everyone is talking about it.

    What does cloud mean to you/your business is what I am trying to address.

    Ruchir

    P.S. Nice blog/TGF Sriram.

  3. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Yash, Cloud is not just about data. It's about ecosystem. The whole hosting-server-desktop is all rolled into one with network being your conduit.

  4. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Yash, Cloud is not just about data. It's about ecosystem. The whole hosting-server-desktop is all rolled into one with network being your conduit.

  5. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Yash, Cloud is not just about data. It's about ecosystem. The whole hosting-server-desktop is all rolled into one with network being your conduit.

  6. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Yash, Cloud is not just about data. It's about ecosystem. The whole hosting-server-desktop is all rolled into one with network being your conduit.

  7. James Greg says

    Sriram,

    You differ completely from the writer’s point of view, but I must appreciate that as you have defined the “cloud” it is now quite clear what a cloud really is.

    On the other hand Ruchir is trying to emphasize the cloud is actually a hype there’s nothing uncommon to it just a few modifications to the technology we are already using it.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Sriram Vadlamani says

      Is cloud different? Yes.

      Is it just a few modifications to the technology? Probably. More than modifications it is a paradigm shift. A shift in the perception that broadband and high speed Internet is ubiquitous.

      Is cloud a hype? Like all things in tech – cloud, Big Data, Social commerce, social gaming – cloud could be a hype, but only time will tell.

  8. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Cloud computing is a business idea just like hosting. That’s where the similarities end.

    Cloud is not Internet and it’s not even a metaphor for Internet. Calling cloud as Internet would be oversimplification. If we have to simplify, cloud would be a computer/operating system provided on the internet without a need for a local installation. Cloud provides a greater flexibility in the ways it can be accessed, which a traditional PC have to struggle hard to compete.

    Hosting only takes care of the ‘I have your data part’. Cloud talk about “I have your data” and “here’s how you can access it”, “here’s way no one else can access your data”. If hosting is a giant harddrive somewhere, cloud is your operating system with complete infrastructure.

    All the computing power is moved to the network and all you need is a keyboard and mouse. Google’s Chrome laptop is an example for this. The laptop is just an interface, everything that used to be on a computer is on the cloud.

    To answer the question, cloud is completely different in terms of business, technology and solution.

  9. Ankit says

    To a certain extent yes, Cloud Computing is being pushed aggresively from a marketing standpoint. however, on a technical level there are subtle differences between the premise of Cloud Computing vis-a-vis shared hosting or ASP. The end-objective and the delivery model have obvious similarities but cloud computing packs in it grid computing and flexibility in terms of upgrading/downgrading bandwidth. One might say that the same is available in shared hosting as well but Cloud based hosting also has multi-tenacy which effectively means need based utilization

  10. Yash Gadhiya says

    Exactly! Cloud computing is nothing more than a marketing term. New name for old hosting business. With the advancement of Internet speeds it was inevitable that data will move onto large server farms of companies that specialize in that area rather than residing on individual computers or company mainframes.

    1. Sriram Vadlamani says

      Yash, Cloud is not just about data. It's about ecosystem. The whole hosting-server-desktop is all rolled into one with network being your conduit.

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