50 shades of cloud

OK, maybe its more like 10 shades (and no I haven’t read the book yet).

From a quick scan of the market today, there are more and more variations of cloud offerings (see the crazy table below). Yet when you dig deeper, the variation is all concentrated on the infrastructure layer. Different networking, dedicated servers, etc.

There’s little variance in applications. They are either hosted and leveraging hosted multi-tenant infrastructure, or the opposite: private with virtualized infrastructure. The prevalence of this type of monolithic architecture severely limits the possibilities for customers.

Instead, we think the cloud conversation should focus on two core areas:

  • The ability for applications to use data (identity, content, policies) without binding it
  • The ability for applications to use whatever computing resources (private, single tenant or multi-tenant) fit the need

This changes the dialogue from, “I’ll never trust a public cloud for this use case, I’d rather stick with my enterprise application or run that enterprise app on a private cloud,” to “I can enable this use case by using SaaS for scale and continuous updates and have it securely use identities and data from my private infrastructure.”

Changing the cloud conversation expands the opportunities for customers:

  • Applications can stay innovative and focus on UX
  • Infrastructure can be consumed for purpose, unhindered by security and compliance concerns
  • Data can reside firmly under the data owner’s control

In a cloud app world, the data is the center. Any type of client can go to the center to get the data, keeping the experience consistent no matter the type of device or where the user is. Oxygen takes this further, applying policies around the data and allowing the customer to choose where the data should reside (in their data center, hosted, or both). This helps bridge the gap between cloud apps and businesses. And we agree with Alex Williams – other developers should be able to build cloud apps too.

As fun as it is to watch AWS creep its way into Enterprise IT, we say focus less on variations of cloud infrastructure and focus more on thinking about what really matters: satisfying user’s need for a great experience and IT’s need for control over data.

What do you say? Are you using one of the 50 shades? Are they helping you solve problems? Or are you still on the sidelines?

-Leo
@lleung

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