Ask the IT Consultant

Jul 1 2009   12:00PM GMT

Clouds Rolling In…


Question:  There has been much twitter in the technology press and from the big vendors about how cloud computing is the next transformational technology.  Is there really anything to the hype?

Every day seems to bring yet another deluge of cloud-related press releases, articles, analyst opinion, and, somewhere among the confusion, some honest-to-goodness useful information.  While there is always some hyperbole with any new technology direction, there is more to the concept of cloud computing than vapor (pardon the inevitable pun).

Once you strip away the fluff, cloud computing represents the next step along the continuum in the evolution of utility computing.  It promises to have a substantial impact in the way that organizations provide IT services in the future to consumers and the entries alike.  From the consultant’s perspective, cloud computing, at a minimum, represents another option in terms of providing a flexible level of service more closely aligned with your exact requirements.  In the Service Provider Model (SPM), service levels are defined based on business requirements and IT delivery capabilities.  On the “demand” side, attributes such as availability, recoverability, and performance form the basis for the service definitions.   From the “delivery” side, IT is responsible for determining the most efficient means of providing a given service level. A key attribute for both demand and delivery is, of course, the per-unit cost at each level of service.

Cloud computing opens up additional delivery options for organizations in planning and providing IT services.  The advantages promised by cloud computing – the ability to quantify operational costs of infrastructure, dynamic resource allocation and improved flexibility, must be weighed against potential risks, such as the availability and control of data, performance impact on applications, potential for vendor lock-in in developing a services strategy.

Incorporating cloud computing into an IT strategy impacts a wide range of IT functions, and an expertise in the areas of data center consolidation, virtualization, security, and data management and protection can provide a unique perspective to determining the right approach to planning and implementing cloud services. If  you are feeling lost in all the hype, look for a vendor independent provider of IT services, to assist you in determining the appropriate IT services strategy for your organization.

Over the coming months, we’ll have more to say on this topic, but for those seeking a decent primer on the subject sans the hype,  a good place to start might be the UC Berkeley paper, “Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing” (  While it has sparked some debate, it frames the subject and its key components quite well.

About the Author

Jim Damoulakis, CTO of GlassHouse Technologies,

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