February 25, 2014

The not so disruptive nature of the Cloud - Cloudsourcing

It's that time again. I've been busy lately, very busy indeed. But there've been some events with some of my customers that led me to write up this post.

So, as the title of this post suggests, I want to discuss the disruptive nature of the Cloud, or rather the cloud not being so disruptive at all. This will be a series of 5 posts in total, you're reading the first post.

Read about the cloud and what it means and you're bound to read that the introduction of the Cloud, the real Cloud, the one that meets all criteria for being a Cloud, has been disruptive.

I like the NIST definition of Cloud, it is quite comprehensive and less vendor-biased than Gartner's defintion.

The Cloud has been disruptive when it comes to the IT industry, especially the hosting market. But it has also been a force in how we handle IT within the enterprise. There are a few important aspects of IT in the enterprise that we consider to have changed due to the Cloud:

I'm sure you can think of other movements as well in your IT environment, but these are typically considered to be not only happening, but also to be disruptive within the enterprise.
These are in fact not really changes happening due to the Cloud, the Cloud merely gave these movements a boost and fast-tracked the changes in IT.
Let's start with that one about in-house versus off-site. I had to restrain myself not to use the term 'outsourcing' because in fact that is what is perceived by many that the Cloud is doing. I coined the term 'Cloudsourcing' at one of my customers while writing up a major chunk of the hosting parts for a rather large tender. Depending on the service that you contract, IaaS or PaaS (SaaS is a different beast all together) you're either outsourcing or insourcing. Again I prefer the NIST definition of XaaS which can be found here.

The diagram above is not entirely according to the NIST definition, well arguably. According to the NIST definition, how I read it, a managed OS is also PaaS, hence when you only get an OS, you're still contracting PaaS. But I think you see that when you're contracting IaaS, using the Cloud is merely hosting, you still need to do all the leg-work, well pretty much of it. Definitely not outsourcing your IT.
On the other hand, when you're contracting PaaS, you're actually closer to outsourcing than to hosting. But my point is, we've been hosting our systems since way before there was Cloud and the same goes for outsourcing. The Cloud in this respect is not really disruptive, it's not even different from what we've been doing since very long.
Is there nothing new that came with the Cloud? Well actually there is. The new part here is that we have a heterogeneous model of hosting and outsourcing where it is not always very clear what is what and looking at our systems that run our applications, some could be part of the outsourcing model and others could be more following a hosting model. To make matters more interesting, servers can move from one model to another based on service offerings and pricing.
The disruptive part here is hardly at the enterprise level. No, it is at the consultancy firm level. It is them that do not have any real experience on how to tender these kind of deals, how to write the right contracts and how to propose the right organizational transformative processes. Why? Because the Cloud is such a novel concept and we are all led to believe that it is so different when you move to the cloud.

Next time up, part 2 in the series; The not so disruptive nature of the financial model, CAPEX vs OPEX.