INTEROP - Cloudy picture for cloud computing

Experts say enterprises are taking a wait-and-see approach

You can call it cloud computing. You can call it grid computing. You can call it on-demand computing. Just don't call it the next big thing -- at least not yet.

Efforts by Web heavyweights such as Amazon and Google to entice companies into tapping into the power of their data centers are being slowed by a number of factors, according to Interop panelists.

Analyst Alistair Croll of BitCurrent said there are specific applications for which grid/cloud computing is perfect. For example, The New York Times recently rented Amazon's grid to create searchable PDFs of newspaper articles going back decades. The Times estimated that the project would have taken 14 years if the Times had used its own servers. Amazon did the entire project in one day, for $240.

But those examples are few and far between, as most companies are still in the `kicking the tires' stage when it comes to grid computing. Reuven Cohen, founder and CTO of Enomaly, said his customers are primarily using grid computing for research and development projects, rather than production applications.

Kirill Sheynkman, head of start-up Elastra, said the early adopters of grid computing are Web. 2.0 start-ups who want to get up and running quickly and without a lot of capital expenses, independent software vendors that want to offer their applications in a software-as-a-service model, and enterprises who have selected specific applications for the cloud, such as salesforce automation or human resources.

"Equipment inside the corporate data center isn't going away anytime soon," added Sheynkman. Companies remain reluctant, for a variety of reasons, to trust the cloud for their mission-critical applications. Here are some of those reasons:

1. Data privacy. Many countries have specific laws that say data on citizens of that country must be kept inside that country. That's a problem in the cloud computing model, where the data could reside anywhere and the customer might not have any idea where, in a geographical sense, the data is.

2. Security. Companies are understandably concerned about the security implications of corporate data being housed in the cloud.

3. Licensing. The typical corporate software licensing model doesn't always translate well into the world of cloud computing, where one application might be running on untold numbers of servers.

4. Applications. In order for cloud computing to work, applications need to be written so that they can be broken up and the work divided among multiple servers. Not all applications are written that way, and companies are loathe to rewrite their existing applications.

5. Interoperability. For example, Amazon has its EC2 Web service, Google has its cloud computing service for messaging and collaboration, but the two don't interoperate.

6. Compliance. What happens when the auditors want to certify that the company is complying with various regulations, and the application in question is running in the cloud? It's a problem that has yet to be addressed.

7. SLAs. It's one thing to entrust a third party to run your applications, but what happens when performance lags. The vendors offering these services need to offer service-level agreements.

8. Network monitoring. Another question that remains unanswered is how does a company instrument its network and its applications in a cloud scenario. What types of network/application monitoring tools are required.

While many of these questions don't have answers yet, the panelists did agree that there is a great deal of interest in grid computing. Conventional wisdom would say that small-to-midsize businesses (SMB) would be most interested in being able to offload applications, but, in fact, it's the larger enterprises that are showing the most interest.

As Google's Rajen Sheth pointed out, when Google started its messaging and collaboration services, it thought SMBs would be the major customers. "Lots of large enterprises are showing interest," he said, "but it will take a while."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Neal Weinberg

Neal Weinberg

Network World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?