Clouds are gathering…Will it rain?

Though cloud computing has been around in different forms for a long time it became an “in thing” in the technology space recently. Last year, I was introduced to this concept by the excellent book by Nick Carr – The Big Switch. Frankly, I read the book with little interest. The arguments were compelling (ex.equating computing utilities to electric utilities). However, I had my own doubts about the whole notion of utility computing. One of the first problem was the issue of billing. How does the cloud computing providers bill their customers? How well this mechanism will work? The other issue was the huge bandwidth required to make this model work. As the time passed, I noticed the momentum around cloud computing was picking up speed and approaching break neck speeds. It seems now that there is no stopping of this phenomenon. There are big names (Amazon EC2&S3, Google’s AppEngine, Microsoft Azure platform) throwing their weight behind this notion. It appears more real now than a year before.

In addition, every tech company on earth claims to be cloud compatible, be it a company that produces rackable servers, or the Gigabit switching company that garnered high profile Cisco VP as the CEO.

The idea of moving the data center from in-house to out-sourced model creates many confusing terms such as IAAS(Infrastructure As A Service), SAAS(Software As A Service), PAAS (Platform As A Service), Cloud Storage, Cloud/Utility Computing, private cloud, public cloud… the list goes on. ( I will try to instill some sanity to this insanity in subsequent posts).

Is this all hype? Is this another version of ASP model everyone was gungho about during the first internet bubble? With the latest fad, Web 2.0, companies going belly up the stark realities of a bubble is not very comforting for any one watching the tech industry.

However, this time around there are signs that cloud computing is going to stick around and provide real, tangible benefits. I’m especially hopeful of the promised benefits of cloud computing, such as energy savings, rapid ramp up of resources and pay-what-you-use (utility computing) model. On top of this, I am hoping, that the new found love for netbooks is going to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing in enterprises.

The biggest challenges for wide adaption of cloud computing will come in the form of network bandwidth availability, data security(in transit and in storage) and management. Nevertheless, as time passes, hopefully, the availability of bandwidth will increase and security concerns will be a thing of the past. With the economy in doldrums and tech industry searching for the next big thing, cloud computing might be one of the saviors which might rescue the tech industry from the slump.

Well… there are signs of rain, will it be enough to reduce the impact of drought?