Any cloud will do? Practical reality

In an earlier thread I suggested that it’s useful to adopt the Cloud Industry Forum’s broad definition of cloud computing as:

Remotely hosted IT services of any type, including, but not limited to, multi-tenanted services accessed via the Internet

This includes traditional on-premise software that is remotely hosted, and accessed via the internet using some form of terminal services.

As I’m now receiving marketing material about specific well-priced services of this type, it’s worth thinking of the pros and cons:

  • Compared to running the same apps in-house
  • Compared to SaaS apps written specifically for the internet

The first reaction may well be “that’s not real cloud!”  But it does mean that businesses that want to continue using existing on-premise software, for whatever reason, can potentially outsource the system management, and access the software from any internet connection.

The practical reality?

Comments
chanpangchi's picture

Do we care?

chanpangchi | | Permalink

It is great if we can agree on a common definition of cloud computing.  However, the most important thing for business users is not the definition but if it can add values to their business (e.g. anywhere, anytime access) and if it is a more cost effective solution.

-- Regards,

Andrew Chan

Better and Faster Decisions

http://www.algconsultings.com/

Semantics - who cares .....

JC | | Permalink

The primary consideration is - are they new applications specifically targeting this form of delivery or legacy applications not originally designed for this method of operation?

This debate will continue to run because Vendors with legacy application are always going to latch onto the latest buzz words to try and demonstrate their products are in vogue; rather than selling their apps on their own merits they try to claim something they are not or change the underlying meaning of words such as Cloud

Frankly it is all really a nonsense and playing with semantics rather than addressing the capability of the various apps. If they work for you then adopt them!

Other threads have 'bastardised' the term to fit whatever people (vendors) want so does it actually matter provided the customer (users) are have a business benefit for running an application in this manner and are happy doing so?

 

PUREaccountants's picture

Interesting!

PUREaccountants | | Permalink

I have said before that I have an issue with terminal services as a "cloud" solution but for the sake of argument will go along with this definition.

For many small/medium businesses the whole issue of IT and support is both expensive and often time consuming. Even for the one man band trying to install, update, manage and actually do some work is quite a handful. So as a solution the on-premise hosted environment or "virtual office" can provide a great solution. The prices are falling for a number of these services to an almost affordable level. 

The issue I have with desktop software (hosted or not) is often its ability to integrate well with other programs (beyond Microsoft). These larger software houses do not seem to develop their products at the same rate as the Cloud apps. There is a conflict of interest, it appears to be more about managing market share as opposed to end user experience. I want to be able to access my databases easily so that I can share data across many databases not just to that suite of software.

Multi-tenated web apps in my opinion are cloud (xero, kashflow etc). These services appear to offer greater flexibility, develop at faster rates than the desktop/terminal solutions and integrate with a growing number of web apps. 

So yes hosted desktop/network is better than in-house due to cost/resource etc but still falls behind in web app development and flexibility.  

rwmjlally's picture

impure cloud solutions

rwmjlally | | Permalink

I agree. I sympathize with those that see hosted solutions of this sort as "not pure cloud" but I see them as a valid alternative however they are labelled.

Some people will claim that everything will inevitably ultimately be "pure cloud" but this always happens when something new comes along - I remember the death announcements of mainframes, non-relational databases etc etc.

When the dust clears there will be a mixture of "pure cloud", "impure cloud", and local network solutions in play, and the people who are satisfied will be those who have the right solution for them.

One area that I believe will especially benefit from impure cloud solutions is small organisations with very specialized needs. It will not be economically viable (at least for a long time) to develop specialized "pure cloud" solutions for very small markets. Yet these small organisations are those most in need of shedding the overhead costs of servers etc. "Impure cloud" solutions provide a solution to this problem that is available now.

 

-- Richard Lally Optimally Limited

Do we need another definition?

bryanrichter | | Permalink

It seems to me that the definition of Cloud is being stretched to include all scenarios where a user may prefer to have the application hosted by a third party as opposed to having the application on their own server. But isn't there already an existing definition for this? Its simply Online Applications! Or even browser based.  

Cloud is a specific computing architecture, which has it's own merits in addition to being online. To my mind it is therefore a subset of the broader definition of online applications which are accessed via a browser.  I am not a Cloud purist and do agree that it needs to be explained in a way that non IT people can understand, but not if that means making it so general that it is almost meaningless.

To me it's a bit like saying that a car is a means of driving from A to B, but so is a van. So let's extend the definition of a car to include a van. 

challisc's picture

Useful Analogy

challisc | | Permalink

The car and van analogy is useful. Together with minibuses, lorries and three-wheelers, they are all types of vehicles. They share common benefits such as being faster from A to B than walking, and share common risks such as crashes. Each has its own pros and cons, depending on the job to be done and the situation.

Hosted applications may have different modes of access, but also share common benefits (such as worldwide access) and common management issues (such as continuity of service and security). Again each type has its pros and cons compared to other types, and each can be of use in the right situation.

In that sense it’s useful to think of the public cloud like we think of vehicles - as a collection of types of remotely hosted systems that are accessed in different ways.

Understanding the types of access and how they compare will become more useful in the coming months as on-premise vendors launch what they will be calling cloud systems.

This is especially so in the mid-market. Microsoft have just announced that the next release of their on-premise CRM software will appear first as a cloud offering. But it sounds like users will need to download specific software to use it, rather than use a browser. Alongside Sage’s announcement on SageOne is a note that they plan to make their mid-market software available for the cloud within the next 12-24 months. How they and other vendors implement this will become apparent as the months progress.

“Pure SaaS” vendors are already making downloadable apps available for smartphones and tablets, to make best use of screen size rather than rely on the in-built web browser. Other services may rely totally on a downloaded app.

Using non-browser access to cloud services will become more and more common. It’s therefore worth understanding the practical differences between the access approaches, alongside the generic issues and benefits inherent in all hosted systems.

PUREaccountants's picture

Only Sage......

PUREaccountants | | Permalink

Could identify how popular the cloud is becoming and announce that they will make their mid market product available in 12-24 months! Can you see that? There? Yup, that's your marketshare leaving the building!

completebookkeeping's picture

SageOne

completebookkeeping | | Permalink

bit confused on last comment - Sageone is already available - for £5 per month cash or £10 for account version.

--

Donna Curling Complete Book-Keeping Ltd Sage Accredited Accountant Partner

daveforbes's picture

Sage versions

daveforbes | | Permalink

I think Sage are saying their mid market ( Sage line 50, Sage line 200 ) will be "online" in 12-24. SageOne is aimed at smaller entities.

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