Public Cloud: 3 areas for differentiation

As an increasing number of companies propose public cloud offerings, being able to differentiate becomes critical. Let’s go back to basics for a moment to understand where innovations are possible. Fundamentally, a cloud consists of three components, one or multiple datacenters, a network and a “zillion” number of devices. That’s what it’s all about, the components and their interaction. Ultimately the user is interested in the end-to-end experience, regardless of the components. How does everything work together?

 

Cloud Control.pngData centers

Whether you are proposing IaaS, PaaS and/or SaaS services, you require compute and storage capacity. For that reason you establish one or multiple data centers, or you buy capacity in somebody else’s data center. In their book “Cloud Security & Privacy,” Tim Mather, Subra Kumaraswamy and Shahed Latif describe the split of responsibility between the vendor and the user on IT governance, as shown in the picture.

I believe that there is room for smaller players to make a difference so I suggest asking these questions:

 

  • To differentiate yourself on the data center side, what leeway do you actually have?
  • If you own the infrastructure, how can you develop an IT governance environment that provides your customer with a unique way to manage the environment?
  • How do you differentiate yourself from the approach taken by the large public cloud providers such as Amazon, Google & Microsoft?
  • Why would service providers, enterprises and individual users come to you for their infrastructure, platform or service’s needs?

 

Devices

For the most part people are not looking at devices as being part of the cloud environment. But the cloud is experienced on the device, and if we take for granted that the end-user looks at the user experience only, we have to take the device into account. Is this the reason why Google bought Motorola Mobility? Note the reference on the user experience in the tagline. It may not be the only reason, but it is definitely part of it. It’s funny but with cloud we are back in a well-known discussion; the one around client/server, but now it should probably be called cloud/device.

 

What functionality is and should be performed in the cloud and what functionality is and should be performed on the device to achieve the best user experience? Google and Apple have different points of view as I pointed out in a separate blog. Balancing local functionality with cloud-based processing to optimize the customer end-user experience will probably be the secret sauce to gain acceptance in the market. And from my personal experience, there is still some work to be done there. In other words, a lot of innovation can be done in this space.

 

Network

And this brings us to the third part. Between the local functionality and the cloud processing sits a network. You remember the World Wide Wait a couple years ago? It’s the network that will make the user experience great or miserable. Two key elements play there, bandwidth and latency. And again, I’m speaking about end-to-end bandwidth and latency, right from the providing data center to the device in your hands. Often this requires going through many telecommunication providers. Google has understood that and is in the process of developing Google Fiber for Communities. But as telecommunications companies already own customers, they own the last mile to the home. Who can  help them address the bandwidth and latency issue?

 

HP and Alcatel-Lucent announced an alliance in 2009. As stated, one of the objectives was “Through the alignment of their offerings and common solutions, HP and Alcatel-Lucent plan to create a “one-stop shop,” relieving service providers of the burden and complexity of coordinating the transformation of IT and telecom infrastructures. Similarly, the companies plan to empower enterprises to effectively create and manage truly integrated communication environments.” Two years down the road and where are we?

 

Well, in most current cloud implementations, the cloud service provider manages and optimizes the use of the cloud infrastructure while the network provider does something similar for the network. But does that lead to an optimal user experience?  Well, often not. So, the real question is why not to optimize the combination of the infrastructure and the network. And that is what Alcatel-Lucent and HP are doing. Building on the combined strength of both parties, we are developing an integrated cloud environment in which we can manage the combined needs for cloud infrastructure and network.

 

Let me take an example. I have an online back-up service for my PC. For 99.9% of the time, I need no service, but occasionally I want to back-up my material. And this should be over with as soon as possible. Having compute and storage capacity in a datacenter won’t guarantee that, isn’t it? But combining that capacity with high bandwidth and low latency at the moment of use, gives me a second to none service. There are many such application areas where the network between the data center and the device is the real bottleneck. Being able to manage datacenter capacity and network characteristics in one integrated way is what HP and Alcatel-Lucent offer.

 

This offering is focused on service providers that own a network and can use it to deliver unprecedented user experiences. It’s a unique way for Telco’s to differentiate. We can demonstrate this today, so if you have interest, don’t hesitate to contact your HP or Alcatel-Lucent contacts.

 

Conclusion

It’s by looking at the end-to-end experience that companies will be able to differentiate themselves in the cloud space. That requires looking not just at the data center, but also at the network and the devices, and how all three interact. There is still a lot of work to do in that area, but HP keeps making progress in this space. You want to know more? Take a look.

Comments
Eva Brian | ‎02-08-2012 05:02 AM

Hi,
Thanks for the great post. We see a shift to adoption of the private cloud in our space. I thought I would share this recent survey we conducted during an event with Forrester research with you and your readers.

62%
of IT Professionals Surveyed Already Have at Least One Private Cloud
Project Underway or Plan to Launch in 2011


According to the survey of IT professionals from global 2000
organizations, 34% said that at least one private cloud project has
already been launched in their organization, while 28% are planning
to implement private cloud infrastructure in 2011.

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