The first time I saw Werner Vogels present was about 2 years ago at a conference keynote in SFO. Sitting amongst a couple thousand storage and data management architects and engineers, I got this strange sensation the Dutch had taken over the planet of IT and I was sitting amongst legions of luddites, completely obvious to the tsunami of change upon the horizon. Even Werner’s PowerPoint style embodied this futuristic minimalist format with super-crisp concepts and ideas that somehow blended IT architecture genius and Baby Einstein graphics into something meaningful. So, as the room emptied out, the group think = ‘wow, that was cool, what just happened’.
Flash forward a couple of years and now most people are talking about cloud and not many really have a firm definition of what it is. I’m just glad to see Werner is taking a stand and calling it out: a private cloud is not the cloud. All of the classic IT vendors are rapidly promoting their wares as gateways to the cloud, when in fact they are pushing the same old capital intensive approach to IT infrastructure.
This is at the heart of this blog: to bridge the classic world of IT infrastructure to the emerging model of operating cash-driven infrastructure services. You look at Amazon’s latest advance, merging EC2 compute services and virtual private networking, and this is taking a significant step towards ‘data center friendly’ cloud architecture. If I can buy multi-carrier MPLS circuits between my data centers, and also between my data centers and Amazon data centers, what’s the difference?
As the cloud hype continues into an exponential roar of a pre-launch countdown, you have to wonder how much of the excitement is catching outside of the IT microcosm. On one hand you have a relatively unproven business model, yet we’re looking at possibly the largest wave of hype ever to hit the IT industry. The average CIO today is driving hard for cloud, private, public, whatever it takes to get to the cloud, while the average IT architect is still trying to figure out what exactly we mean by cloud. Politicians have gotten on the magic carpet ride too.
A great example is Rueven Carlye, state representative of my old stomping grounds in Washington state, who is rallying against a new state data center project in Olympia, calling it ‘a 300 million dollar mistake’ in defense of lower costs via cloud providers. That’s a bold move for attacking an entire data center budget, where the state likely runs on 100’s of legacy applications and platforms, unlikely ever to be candidates for cloud computing. A more pragmatic push to cloud is afoot at the city of Los Angeles, with legislators gunning to shift desktop workload to Google applications.
So do we suddenly have tech-savvy legislators, or do we have a growing lobby influence from the cloud pioneers, Google and Amazon? I’d speculate that millions of lobbying effort per quarter is only the beginning.
But we IT pioneers pack up our wagon train and head into the cloud; do we have any laws defining ‘who owns the data’? As far as my research on the topic goes, the answer is no. You do have broad legislation in the European Union limiting private data movement out of country, but practically no laws outlining who owns your data when it goes into the cloud (or anywhere for that matter). One 3rd party cloud architect noted, ‘chain of custody is the only legal precedent protecting data ownership in the cloud’, and if you don’t have that, you don’t have much of a legal leg to stand on if you’re data is being uploaded into a 3rd party virtual infrastructure and ownership/control is called into question. Definitely reminds me of feudal Europe – those who own the land (infrastructure) have the power (over the data) in the emerging cloud market.