Jan Brass Takes a Hard Look at the Cloud

When the “Cloud” Isn’t the Cloud

Cloud Developments from Apple's Latest WWDCThere is no doubt that cloud technology is the hottest innovation among enterprises. Organizations are scrambling to move their applications and data onto the cloud in search of lower costs, no maintenance, scalability, and flexibility. The market is growing at such a rate that even Oracle and SAP – two companies known for enterprise computing using the old client/server model – have thrown their hats in the ring.

But are all of them really offering cloud services? If you look closely, you might catch the fact that what these companies are selling as the cloud is actually hosting services repackaged with the latest terminology. While they all have free basic tiers for developers, they are exactly that – basic. No enterprise will want to trust those plans for their long-term or even short-term needs. On the other hand, for true enterprise support, companies will have to purchase ongoing subscription plans which can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars per month.

On top of the high cost (relative to other cloud offerings) clients also have to reserve dedicated hardware instances and pay software licensing costs. On some of the sites, you cannot even find out the cost for a plan without signing up for a dedicated account (thankfully you do not have to pay for this!). On others, clicking the buy now button simply pops up a phone number so that your organization’s IT department can get in touch with their sales department. By now you’re probably wondering – where is a cloud in all of this?

What these companies don’t seem to understand is that the new technology landscape is filled with pay-as-you-go services which are not dependent on vendor lock-in or maintenance contracts. Neither should the process for reserving computing resources be so convoluted that the average person is likely to give up halfway through. If a developer wants to sign up for Amazon Web Services, all they need is a credit card and they can be up and running in a few minutes. That is certainly not the case if an organization wants to purchase “cloud services” from certain vendors.

If an organization or developer starts using AWS or GCE, they may or may not want to stay with the provider for years. They may just want to try out the service to see if it fits their needs. At any point of time, they’re free to leave. In fact many startups have popped up that provide services for migrating from one provider to another making it easy for companies to pick up and move. No longer does the company have to worry about losing maintenance, tech support or “destroying” a vendor relationship.

If any vendor wants to compete in this landscape, this is the reality that they have to deal with. If not, there are many others willing to fulfill enterprise cloud needs without the lock-in and glacial pace of technology innovation that companies had to deal with for the last few decades. For businesses looking to transition to cloud technology, make sure to examine all details, terms and conditions and SLAs so that you get the real deal.

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