Wednesday, October 21, 2015

That "cloud' term

IT consists of many components that are evolving. Some, like compute have evolved from being provided as a product (i.e. server) to being provided as a utility service (i.e. IaaS). Unfortunately rather than calling this a compute utility (which it is), we've been lumbered with the term "cloud".

This can create all sorts of confusion. For example, lets look at the figure below (using the form of a Wardley map).


1) This is compute as a utility i.e. compute utility. Unfortunately we call this "cloud".

2) This is a never before invented human to kitten translator. It's something totally novel and new. Is it a utility ... No! But it's built on compute utility. Is it cloud? Well, that's where the confusion starts because some marketing folk know the value of the getting the cloud word in there and hence it'll be called "Human to Kitten translator on cloud" or "Human to Kitten translator cloud" before you know it.

3) This is a custom built intelligent software agent e.g. Siri. Is it a utility? No, hell I can't even buy Siri like capabilities as a product and it certainly doesn't provide you volume operations delivery of a good enough component. It's far from a utility. It might be built on a compute utility. Is it cloud though? Again talk to sales, they'll probably say yes if that helps.

4) This is an ERP product running on a compute utility. Is it a utility itself? No, it's most likely to be a single instance rental model. But is it cloudy ... do you think they're not going to advertise it as "ERP on cloud" or "Cloud ERP" for short?

5) This is a payroll utility i.e. it's one of those services that charges per transaction and in this case is built on a compute utility. Is the the payroll service a utility? Yes. Is it cloudy? Bizarrely in the financial world, some people don't show off their cloudy credentials and have been keeping quiet on this topic.

6) This is an invoicing service charging per invoice produced and it happens to be run on its own servers. It is a utility ... yes. Is it cloudy? Well here arguments start as another salesperson chimes in to say "It's not as cloudy as our cloud ERP which runs on IaaS" etc.

I like things simple e.g. product based ERP running on a compute utility or utility payroll running on a compute utility. A utility simply means volume operations of good enough components for a common and well defined activity charged on a per use basis. 

Cloud means ... oh, hell ... anything you want it to as almost everyone ignores NIST not that it was much of definition in the first place.