Technology Trends and Other Cool Things

Arun Rao

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Opening Keynote at Cloud Expo

So you have been hearing a lot about Cloud Computing - and you have moved a few applications out to Google Apps or even migrated all your sales management to SalesForce.com.

In so doing, you have adopted a software deployment model (SaaS) first introduced in the early part of this decade... Granted, the model has only recently become popular because of big players getting into the fray, but SaaS (while a big chunk of the Cloud model) is still just scratching the surface.

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With hyper-fast Internet access becoming cheaper and the Web becoming more ubiquitous than ever, there is a whole new realization in the industry that everything that was traditionally managed in-house can in fact, be moved out to being a shared resource as long as there is data security, validation and accessibility. Whether that is a fleeting phenomenon like many such hype cycles before it, or here to stay remains to be seen... but there is no doubt that a lot of Venture Capital investment has gone into it already (and more flowing in every week).

Now, if you map your existing stack from the data center to the Cloud, you get 3 basic kinds of Cloud offerings: Software (SaaS), Platform (PaaS) and Infrastructure (IaaS).

 


Last year, when I first looked at the Cloud offerings, there were precious few options - and the ones that were reliable (for corporate environments) were all established players doing limited things. But as you can see in the illustration above, there are a whole new set of companies (and a few who have repositioned themselves) to provide value in everything from building infrastructure in the Cloud (Amazon, Rackspace, Go Grid, to name a few), providing a platform for application development (e.g. Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine, Force.com, Heroku, Engine Yard) as well as lots of new and established SaaS providers.

SaaS software has also come a long way from the first application for sales automation. Today, we can get SaaS for everything from utility / small business needs to complex ERP (NetSuite), Corporate Email (Microsoft Exchange Online, Google Mail ), Document sharing (Google Docs, Microsoft) and even HR management (Workday).

There is also on-demand Security software from McAfee... so you feel a bit secure when you are in the Cloud.

Feel like your current storage requirements are not enough? No problem... you have a lot of choices there too... EMC's Atmos platform is just one of them.

Amazon's EC2 (as well as RackSpace Cloud, Go Grid and others) allows you to create a Public Cloud easily... i.e., deploy your application in 1 or more application servers and scale up or down as the requirement changes. That of course is the simplified version of the definition - it also does things like security, resource management, visibility, etc. This is very useful for not only small companies who cannot afford huge up-front hardware investment, but also for large companies that are looking to streamline their server utilization.

Now you may say, this doesn't sound very much different from your plain old Virtualization? Well, it's not all that different - the Virtualized environment within your data center is actually your Private Cloud as long as it can provide you with the same features that a Public Cloud does - typically at a much lower TCO. If you have sensitive data and want to go with a Private Cloud - without having to manage it within your data center, there is a solution for that too... you could deploy a Virtual Private Cloud in one of the Cloud Infrastructure providers' data centers.

In Part-3, we will explore the available IaaS options in a little more detail...

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More Stories By Arun Rao

Arun Rao is a seasoned technology executive based in the SF Bay Area.