Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The cloud - public, private, and the appliances within

I talked to a sales guy the other day, one of the better ones. Not only was he forthcoming, helpful, and charming, he was knowledgable and experienced; a rare breed. I had been out of this vendor's loop for a bit and asked what was going on; he mentioned all kinds of things he thought I'd be interested in, including a big cloud push for the vendor's software. Great. I segued into software appliances and he told me they were dead. Not limping, not re-purposed - DEAD.

From a techie's point of view (which is, to be fair, not the same as a salesman's) I see these as points along a continuum, or at least pre-requisite. "The Cloud" is all about ecomomies of scale, and industrialisation of information technology. In order to achieve the desired outcomes from The Cloud, standardisation and mechanisation are pre-requisites. A software applicance is a standardised "unit" (when properly built), an abstraction of an underlying mechanisation, it's the thing you want in The Cloud.

Amazon knows this, rPath knows this, VMware knows this, and Google has been doing this implicitly (as have all big web shops) since its inception; but the commentariat seem to have completely missed it, the analysts have missed it, and most of the vendors have missed it. It's a joke.

The Cloud is only a cloud while the hard bits are hidden. When the hard bits start peeking out, The Cloud becomes The Mess. When the hard bits get hidden, you're running someone else's software, on someone else's hardware (or your own - pick a public or private cloud as suits you), and we all become a lot more happier with the result.

The Cloud == Appliances.

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