Cloud: the Endless Infrastructure Tap

In the build up to Oracle Open World London I’ve been working with the marketing and sales teams to discuss various aspects of Cloud.  It’s been very interesting, and I look forward to this inaugural London event.

Talking about Cloud makes you think about Cloud (a lot) and the various things it can fix, as well as the new problems that it creates.  What I find fascinating is how Cloud has enabled an endless infrastructure tap, something that has never really been available before.

Prior to ‘The Cloud’ IT infrastructure was bound by physical limits such as servers, data centres, and physical buildings, which meant that only so much growth and expansion was possible.  This created problems in IT as you had to manage your capacity; I remember many projects that were designed to move resources, free up resources, or save some space.  These projects were expensive, and all focused on cramming as much into the physical environments as possible.  Even with virtualisation the notion of ‘over provisioning’ came in to further push the boundaries of what could be placed on static infrastructure resources.

The benefit of this resource capacity is that it (sometimes) created a level of discipline to manage and monitor the amount of resources you had.  Sweat the asset; make the most of the resource and only buy more resources when you absolutely have to.

Maybe this is why sysadmins were so reluctant to give you more space when your database grew…they had the discipline.

All hail Cloud as it has since fixed this issue – we now have an endless tap of infrastructure.  We have more Public Cloud than ever before and we are not bound by physical limits, provisioning speed or even finance (as your Cloud bill only comes in at the end of the month).  Anyone with a credit card can have a data centre!  Isn’t that great?

What we have lost in the process is discipline.  We don’t have to be disciplined anymore as we have endless resources; we don’t even have to ask if we want to spin them up.  This creates a new problem.  Organisations are now finding themselves with a new phenomenon called the ‘Unexpected Cloud Bill’ or ‘How can we be spending so much on Cloud’.  For someone who implements Cloud solutions this is frustrating as it gives the casual observer the impression that Cloud is expensive.  Well, it is expensive if you have no controls or processes in place – no discipline – to manage it.

If you want to see the benefits of Cloud and make it work for your organisation, it must be implemented with discipline.  Don’t use it as an endless tap of infrastructure as it will dramatically reduce the value it brings and quickly become very costly to manage and maintain.


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