Like many good things in the US, cloud computing originated on the West coast inside the innovative web giants Google and Amazon. Both offer forms of storage and application services. Google aims today at the consumer and end-user with the ever-expanding office-type applications (Calendar, documents, mail, etc.). For many organizations (such as the city of Los Angeles) Google replaces the traditional Microsoft desktop application suite. Amazon is geared more for advanced consumers (like web developers) and the enterprise with a range of increasingly data center friendly storage and compute services.
An ever-increasing list of cloud-storage focused startups are on the scene, and now the major vendors are making entries to market, slowly but surely. Don’t forget the Telecom’s like AT&T, who like EMC, are closely modeled after the Amazon cloud model.
The public cloud model threatens the premise of the traditional enterprise hardware and software industry, so we are beginning to see the major infrastructure vendors positioning for the private cloud market, as seen with the EMC/Cisco/VMware joint venture cloud services company Acadia and a slew of similarly minded partnerships.
Indeed, the cloud is a confusing marketing fueled circus at the moment, but I do think the impact on traditional infrastructure roles will be significant over time. I personally don’t think the private cloud is a cloud (I like to call it virtualized infrastructure with good engineering), and like some people would suggest, “not everything is a cloud“. What I’m talking about is the impact of public cloud infrastructure services on general IT infrastructure.
So here’s a preliminary speculation on the cloud impact to infrastructure roles:
- Tech Cycle One (2010-2012)
- Storage cloud services evolve for archive, file, and disaster recovery
- Compute cloud services mature to data center ‘friendly’ offerings
- Flurry of device and software entries to market to solve ‘first mile problem’ associated with cloud archive and storage (this is something I plan to write about soon)
- Fewer system administrator type roles required for small-medium businesses and startups (via cloud compute)
- Early adopters of large enterprise storage and compute services – primarily x86 and secondary storage, but limited impact to headcount
- Tech Cycle Two (2013-2015)
- Storage cloud services mature, consolidations and major acquisitions begin
- Compute cloud services become standard for small business and adoption begins in mid-market
- Significant reduction of standard back-office support (files, email) for small-medium businesses and startups
- System administrator type roles required for small-medium businesses and startups become less common place, in some cases not required at all
- Initial impact to large enterprise storage and compute services – primarily x86 and secondary storage, possible redux in skill requirements
As a practitioner, this is a good time to track the trends and stay ahead of the shift. This one may shake up the status-quo management model we’ve enjoyed for the last 15 years in distributed computing.