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The competition among cloud providers may
drive prices downward, but at what cost?
BY DaVe DuRKee
perfect competition characteristics
of remote computing, these expectations set the stage for fierce pressure
on cloud providers to continuously
This pricing pressure results in a
commoditization of cloud services
that deemphasizes enterprise requirements such as guaranteed levels of
performance, uptime, and vendor responsiveness, much as has been the
case with the Web hosting industry.
Notwithstanding, it is the expectation
of enterprise management that operating expenses be reduced through the
use of cloud computing to replace new
and existing IT infrastructure. This difference between expectation and what
the industry can deliver at today’s near-zero price points represents a challenge, both technical and organizational, which will have to be overcome
to ensure large-scale adoption of cloud
computing by the enterprise.
The Las T TiMe the IT industry delivered outsourced
shared-resource computing to the enterprise was with
timesharing in the 1980s when it evolved to a high art,
delivering the reliability, performance, and service
the enterprise demanded. Today, cloud computing
is poised to address the needs of the same market,
based on a revolution of new technologies, significant
unused computing capacity in corporate data centers,
and the development of a highly capable Internet
data communications infrastructure. The economies
of scale of delivering computing from a centralized,
shared infrastructure have set the expectation
among customers that cloud computing costs will be
significantly lower than those incurred from providing
their own computing. Together with the reduced
deployment costs of open source software and the
the essential characteristics
of cloud computing
This is where we come full circle and
timesharing is reborn. The same forces
are at work that made timesharing a viable option 30 years ago: the high cost
of computing (far exceeding the cost of
the physical systems), and the highly
specialized labor needed to keep it running well. The essential characteristics
of cloud computing that address these
needs are: 4
˲ ˲ On-demand access. Rapid fulfillment of demand for computing and
continuing ability to fulfill that demand as required.
˲ ˲ Elasticity. Computing is provided
in the amount required and disposed
of when no longer needed.
˲ ˲ Pay-per-use. Much like a utility,
cloud resource charges are based on
the quantity used.
˲ ˲ Connectivity. All of the servers are
connected to a high-speed network
that allows data to flow to the Internet
as well as between computing and storage elements.
˲ ˲ Resource pooling. The cloud provider’s infrastructure is shared across