The cloud becomes popular

At this year's CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, cloud computing is the hot topic. That is no surprise to me, given that cloud computing is the trend within IT. Cloud computing is still fundamentally changing IT. In fact, cloud computing isn't really new. Services in the internet are out there for many years. You just have to look at vendors like salesforce.com and others which have their roots in the pre-year-2000 internet bubble.

What really changes are three other aspects:

  • There is a more consistent view on cloud computing - and vendors are filling the gaps in the cloud offerings
  • There is an increasing maturity of many cloud services
  • Cloud computing is understood as a strategic issue instead of a point solution for specific issues (CRM, Web Hosting, Online backup,...)
Defining a cloud strategy is essential to companies of every size. Whilst SMBs might move their entire server IT into the cloud, larger organizations will gain more flexibility in many areas, especially in contrast to classical (frequently very expensive) outsourcing contracts.

The big issue with the cloud today is that there isn't one cloud offering but there is a broad range of elements. Virtually any vendor uses the term "cloud" in its marketing. And most of them really provide cloud services. But for a cloud strategy it is essential and inevitable to first define the "stack" of cloud services, from pure processing power up to specific applications for CRM or ERP or anything else. We have defined such a stack in a recent (german language) report on the Cloud Computing Market. The main areas are

  1. Hardware: Cloud Services which provide “hardware”, e.g. computing power, storage,…
  2. OS: Virtualized environments provided within/via the cloud.
  3. Infrastructure: Identity Management, IT Service Management and all the other infrastructure services which can be provided as cloud services.
  4. Application infrastructures/services: As well complete application platforms in the cloud as web services provided via the Internet.
  5. Office, Communication, Collaboration: All the application which are used as standard tools – from web conferencing to office applications which can be used via the web.
  6. Applications: Any type of ready application, including business applications like salesforce.com or SAP BusinessByDesign.
Another issue in the cloud will become what I call "cloud governance". This is probably the biggest threat, as well from an ITSM/BSM perspective as from an IAM/GRC perspective. And in that area many things have still to be solved. We will discuss trends in that area as well as identity services for the cloud at the European Identity Conference 2009 which will be held in Munich in May.

Popularity of a topic is one thing. Doing it right is another. And that is, for sure, the big threat we are all facing now - making the best out of the cloud.



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