Lost in the Cloud

First, here are the issues:

1. open source or proprietary software?

2. choice of IaaS vendors

3. security

4. compliance with government policies

5. public or private cloud?

6. lock-in or interoperability?

7. focus on applications or infrastructure?

The mitigations:

1. Technologies have biases. Even open source software (OSS) exhibits lock-in (high switching cost to proprietary software due to lack of familiarity, incompatibility and […place your reason here…]). However, if we educate our developers early on (read: high school students), open source yields far greater in ROI than proprietary software in the long run.

2. If you bet on Amazon Web Services, great although beware of getting deeper down the rabbit hole! No disrespect for Amazon but they really pioneer the concept of cloud computing.

3. security – have a security-first mindset, then implement it

4. government policies – there’s nothing you can do other than to comply (HIPAA, etc)

5. public or private cloud – it depends on how you trust your vendor. For private cloud, IT personnel are scarce resources

6. lock-in or interoperability – interoperability is mitigated with standards (OVA at the VM level although it’s not as straightforward as your hypervisor would tell you) or abstraction (OpenShift as a kind of abstraction to IaaS vendors’ back-end).

7. focus on applications or infrastructure?

Joyent – along with other infrastructure-centric clouds like Amazon’s EC2 and Rackspace’s Mosso – lets subscribers see their machines. Because they virtualize at the hardware level, these clouds support a wide range of development languages. Users aren’t locked in – they can take their applications out of the cloud and run them themselves. But this model also means customers have to worry about operating their virtual infrastructure, undermining the promised scalability of cloud computing. By contrast, service-centric cloud models like Google’s App Engine, 10Gen and Microsoft’s Azure hide the infrastructure from developers. Subscribers don’t worry about scaling. Instead, they fret over lock-in: the inability to leave their cloud provider when things go wrong because they’re dependent on its proprietary features.

With Reasonably Smart, Joyent can strike a balance between infrastructure and service. Developers write applications in JavaScript, using extensions for things like I/O and storage. These applications can run on a developer’s desktop, in a private datacenter or in a cloud. Of course, Joyent is betting its operational expertise will convince people to run it in their cloud. It’s a service model, but one that subscribers can leave if they want to.

(courtesy: The 451 Group)

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