The Cloud is Not a Solution for Everyone

SAN FRANCISCO – Moving to the cloud will not suit every business and for some, the cloud may not be the right answer, so they should look at their business requirements and ask if moving to the cloud the right thing to do.

That’s the sentiment of a keynote speech here at a cloud computing forum hosted by research firm IDC. “The larger and more efficient the enterprise, the less effective the differential benefits of using SaaS or the cloud, and it may be better to keep things in-house,” said Jason Waxman, general manager of Intel’s High Density Computing group.

IDC, as well as SaaS’s many proponents, have predicted that this year SaaS would be one of the major beneficiaries of the move to the cloud as companies seek to cut costs.

Aside from questionable benefits, there are some serious problems with moving to the cloud for large enterprise firms, and that includes Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Waxman said. Security and compliance are the main issues.

“People have the vision of dynamic loads in the cloud with great
Utilization, but that has some limitations in terms of accountability and security,” Waxman said. “If I don’t know where my data resides, is it secure? And, if there’s an issue in financial transactions, where do you pinpoint where the problem occurred?”

Co-speaker Deepak Puri, director of strategic alliances at VMware (NYSE:
VMW), said his company is working with partners to solve security issues with Open Machine Virtual Format (OVF).

OVF is a set of standards developed jointly by XenSource, which is owned by Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS), VMware, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL). It lets applications moved to the cloud take all the business policies associated with them, Puri said.

Already vendors have begun to leverage OVF. VMware unveiled VMware Studio, which uses OVF, at VMworld 2008 in September, and Oracle is using the standard in its Oracle VM Templates Suite, which lets users set up a production environment in minutes using various Oracle applications.

Apart from OVF, companies could deal with security, compliance and auditing issues by having applications with different security requirements in different environments, Puri said. Some could be run in an enterprise’s data center, others in its internal cloud and still others on the external cloud.

If there is a business case for going with cloud service providers, however, enterprises should talk to their service providers, Waxman said.
“We ask about security, containment, identification, how the service provider does authentication, and if it meets those requirements, we’ll look at it,” he said.

Cloud service providers also need to have a strong focus on management in the cloud, Waxman said. “You need application lifecycle management, data management, and resources for infrastructure management.”

An enterprise must know how to determine where workloads should reside and what services attach to hardware, Waxman said. This can be done very well without the use of virtualization, Waxman said, puncturing another commonly held concept about the cloud — that it goes hand in hand with virtualization.

Intel, which sees itself as a partner of all the big companies, is working
with them to solve many of these problems.

These include projects to simplify the network stack and power management projects. “The tie between workloads and how they’re provisioned with power will be extremely important,” Waxman said.

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