Cloud Computing: What VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix are NOT TELLING YOU!
Written by: Douglas A. Brown, MVP, CTP
At last week’s VMworld virtualization conference all anyone wanted to talk about was "Cloud Computing". The Cloud this and the Cloud that… Oh my, if I had a casino chip for every time someone said the word "Cloud" I would have left Vegas a very rich man but to me every time I heard the word Cloud, I cringed…why?
In honor of all this "Cloud Computing" buzz, one of DABCC’s very own columnist, the awesome and amazing Bernd Harzog, just posted a detailed analysis on "Is Cloud Computing the next big thing, or a bunch of vapor?" What role does virtualization play in the enterprises’ adoption of Cloud Computing? What does VMware’s CEO Paul Maritz’s Keynote at VMworld tell us about how VMware and Cloud Computing will evolve together? What is more important, VMware’s Data Center OS strategy or its Cloud Computing strategy, or are they one and the same?
Bernd’s analysis stands on its own and I highly recommend it. But I wanted to add my two cents and get off my chest a bit about why Cloud Computing bothers me, and of course I will do this without stepping on any of Bernd’s points, so make sure to read his analysis.
What bothers me so much about Cloud Computing? Great question and I’m glad you asked, so I shall detail it a bit as follows:
The Cloud – Oh you mean the Internet? Yes when someone says the word "Cloud" they are really saying the word "Internet". That is it. Remember the thing Al Gore created oh so many years ago and the thing we use each and every day? You know the thing that we have been trying to fill with services since its conception. It is NOT new, it is the flipping Internet people and you can call it anything you want but it is the INTERNET!
Telcos and ISPs – When is the last time any of you called Verizon, Comcast and/or any other ISP and enjoyed the experience? NEVER is my answer. In fact I just moved offices, not long ago, and in the process I had to get a new ISP, which for me turned out to be the lovely folks at Verizon. Now without going into my complete story on how it took two months of daily phone calls to finally find someone that wanted to help me and actually knew how to help me. (It is also important to understand I do not have a residential account with them either. I have a full blown business account with SLAs) And this was not the first; I had the same problems in CA only with a different company and different people. The experience sucked, to say the least, and I was left with a feeling as if I had zero control of anything related to this "Internet", oh I mean "Cloud" thing.
Remember the Cloud is the Internet. It is NOT some magical new experience… It is the INTERNET with all its pluses and minuses and you need an ISP to get there and if the ISP does not help, then all that wonderful data you just placed up there and are now relying on is lost to you until they "feel" like helping you, which in my case has been almost never.
I won’t even go in to the fact that Comcast wants to start charging us per bits used or something crazy like that for our "unlimited" service plans. Now all my data is in the cloud and I’m charged every time I want to access it? Does this not lead to me wanting to cut back on how much bandwidth we use? Oh yah, this is all going to work out just fine, just fine…
That being said, I don’t care nor do I understand what Nikolas Carr and the rest of the "let’s make Cloud services like power grid" thinkers are talking about. OH, if electricity was such a great thing and so reliable then why do all data centers have extremely expensive generators attached to them? Maybe it is because the power companies do not always work and when they don’t, there is nothing we can do about it… Mr. Carr’s theory is flawed a bit. To say the Cloud can be like power.. IT cannot. In my datacenter I can buy a generator but if the Cloud fails, or any of its components fail, then I cannot build a new one, but I’m getting ahead of myself as I always do when I get so worked up over something I find so silly…
Privacy – In the world of Chinese hackers, Russian aggression in Georgia and Al-Qaeda wanting to do anything and everything to disrupt our way of life, do you really believe putting all our information in the Cloud (INTERNET) is a good thing? Has anyone read the stories that come out about every week where someone loses a USB hard drive with all their company’s customers’ names, passwords, and credit card numbers, where a site was hacked into only to gain access to all the customer data, or where a Vice Presidential candidate’s private email address was hacked and all its contents leaked to the public for personal gain? This happens all the time and we are seriously thinking about putting our entire company’s data or even some of it in the hands of people who don’t care about it the way we do? This scares the living daylights out of me. If you went to the bank and they told you all of your money was going to live on a server that your bank does NOT own, that is in the hands of a company you have no recourse against, would you do it? I would not deposit my money with them, but then again I may be crazy. Maybe I’m missing the point and this is a good thing? Explain to me why I’m wrong on this?
High Availability – This new amazing thing some genius thought up called the "Cloud" is being sold to us as the ultimate in high availability. They say it is always there for you when you need it from anywhere, anyplace, at anytime. Is it? What happens when any of the three above scenarios happen? I move my data from my data center and place it in the Cloud which is managed by people who don’t truly care about me and then I lose access to all my data when there is a problem and of course, there will be problems, or am I hallucinating?
The Cloud bandwagon guys are telling us to look at Google. Look at the amazing network they built where they can add and remove servers at any given time and we, the customer, would never know any differently. Look at Apple’s Mobile Me service, look at Microsoft’s Live services, and even look at companies like Amazon and notice that they all go down and when they do who are you going to call… Google with a billion customers? Do they care about little old you? Nope… Are you going to call your ISP? Yah, I sure hope it is not Verizon as when I call them I get the run around for a week before I complain enough that someone wants to shut me up by simply fixing my problem. Those are the big boys,…now imagine putting your life in the hands of some startup Cloud provider… Yah, right… Great idea…
The moral of the story is that there is no such thing as amazing support unless you do it yourself, period. If the Cloud goes down and my company’s network stays up, then only remote users can’t compute but all my internal employees can. If my power goes out then I can switch over to the generator and continue to compute, but if it is in the Cloud, then I have to rely on those fools who took two months to get my simple Internet, oh forgive me I mean "Cloud" service, running again. If you ask me, I just can’t do business this way and won’t.
The above are just a few of the many reasons why I think Cloud computing is a complete pile of steaming horse p$%p, but at the same time, I must say there are some good uses of Cloud computing and some good implementations of it.
For example, I think it would be awesome for me to have the ability to "rent " a thousand servers for my test environment when I need them. I would use them and then when I’m done, give them back. I only pay for what I need, when I need it. That is awesome and the best part is if there is a problem with this amazing "Cloud" then I just don’t care as I will go back to working on one of the thousand other tasks I need to complete while I’m waiting for the Cloud vender or ISP to get their act together. It just does not hurt me the way it would if my entire life was up there to hack into, to lose, to steal, to sell to others, or to just downright not care about me anymore than they currently do. The reality is that they provide me the worst level of service, EVER! Can you tell I’m not a fan of the "Cloud"?
Of course, these are just a few of my big reasons why I despise the Cloud as a place to run my business. If you want to read about this from a completely analytical perspective and how it relates to what VMware talked about at VMworld then please refer to Bernd Harzog’s article.
OK, so those are my views. I would love to know yours. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m out of control, tell me I’m missing the "big" picture, but you better explain to me how they are going to provide the same level of service or better that I can do myself.
Thanks for reading and have fun with the comments…