Srinivas Reddy’s Weblog

My Tech Rants

Cloud computing Trends and Market needs

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Year 2010 may well be the year of Cloud computing (probably with some close competition from Mobile and Sustainability themes) for the Tech folks. In the recent weeks I took some time to understand in more detail if Cloud computing has really arrived or is one more hype theme for IT vendors. I had actually blogged as far as in 2007 on ‘Everything as a Service’ and in 2008 on ‘IT as a Service’. Interestingly most of what I had written then is still valid just that the plot got more complex and audience more interested! So it’s time to take another shot at the clouds.

Without getting into what Cloud computing means (I am sure you have read enough about it!), I would like to think in terms of the “End-user” and “Application developer” be it in Enterprise or Consumer domain. What are their key challenges and to what extend can the current Cloud offering help? It’s after all “market consumption” that decides the success. The Key challenge in Enterprise IT is “Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)”. Given the huge “legacy” of applications that IT needs to maintain at considerable operational costs, making any changes (how about integrating with some cool “social” apps?) is considerable effort. The maxim “Do not touch a running system” still holds. While “packaged” applications come with huge “support” costs and related upgrade requirements, very little room exists in Corporate Budget for new “cloud solutions”. If we look at the increasing revenues of cloud vendors (Amazon,, Google…) obviously market demand exists…  So why is on-premise computing so expensive and can it really be compared to the cloud offering?  From my SAP development experience I can say supporting all product standards (check slide 15 in link) comes at a considerable cost but with related value add for the customers. Given that not all solutions/customers need such standard compliance it would be fair to say that the “cloud offerings” with all their limitations still have enough niche markets that can be addressed. The real challenge for cloud computing would be to build “complex” business applications and support them over time for a large installed base. While ‘Software as a Service (SaaS)’ is only one aspect of cloud computing (maybe the most important for end-users / app developers), we do see good traction in ‘Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)’ (aka hosted hardware) while the market for ‘Platform as a Service (PaaS)’ (aka hosted hardware with infrastructure software) is still being defined.

What are the expectations from “Application Developers” from a cloud computing platform? As for any computing platform they would need a ‘productive’ development environment (be it programming language, app framework, IDE support, Source code management…) and runtime environment (be it on-device mobile container, web/app servers…). Offering a productive ‘end2end’ environment can be challenging considering no one vendor may/can control all the ends…The rapid pace at which new cloud programming languages/app frameworks are emerging (be it JRuby, JPython, Scala, Dojo,….) together with new NoSQL cloud databases (Cassandra, CouchDB…) makes Application development more difficult. Till there are some clear cloud platform winners making a technology choice for application development is risky. It could also explain the new found love for open source software of most IT vendors as a risk mitigation strategy ;o).

Given the market needs what are the major IT vendors doing? Having attended a recent IBM cloud computing for developers session, watched recent Google Atmosphere youtube webcasts on cloud trends, attended Deutsche Telekom Developer garden session on Cloud computing and recent SAP DKOM session related to Cloud computing among others, can share some key trends I see.  While some key design issues (Multi-tenancy, In-memory databases, App Lifecycle Management…) need more research, Cloud computing is accepted as a viable option for some use cases. Cloud computing has a lot to do with the many recent/continuing IT acquisitions we see. While the IT stack is at a inflection point, the platform vendor (hardware / system software / applications) has to win in the “Cloud Data Center” to survive. The stakes are huge, one can only hope that open systems win. I like in particular IBM view to cloud as ‘Cloud = Virtualization + Standardization + automation) and SAP focus on ‘on-premise, on-demand and on-device’. It would be interesting to see how ‘best of breed’ solutions migrate to “cloud appliances”. I personally do not think one need’s to own the whole stack (Oracle strategy) to win. Having the right eco-system partnerships and adapting to customer needs will be key.  So ‘End-user’ may well be the winner after all even if  he has to wait longer to harness the clouds.

Written by srinivasreddy

May 14, 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in Mobile, SAP, Technology

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. […] would like to share some of my thoughts here. I had blogged in the past about some of these trends here and here, they provide a good context to think about potential applications for the emerging […]

  2. […] would like to share some of my thoughts here. I had blogged in the past about some of these trends here and here, they provide a good context to think about potential applications for the emerging […]

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