I’ve been in enough cloud engagements to realize that the Cloud is not (just) about saving money. Sure, you can reduce start-up costs and pay “On-Demand” for resources. If you have 1001 e-mail users you can subscribe to 1001 instances of Google Apps or Office 365 and pay for exactly what you use. Does that mean you’ll save money over deploying Exchange or some other groupware? Maybe. The focus shouldn’t be on just savings rather the functionality gained by the cloud.
In this Cisco video Forester talks about some of the drivers for engaging a cloud strategy and the business stakeholders making the case for cloud. It’s not always cost savings or IT. In most instances that I’ve been involved in it’s about capability. Why does Netflix stay with a cloud for distribution? I’m sure at this point they could build out their own data centers and probably save money over AWS.
For each business, it will be a different driver. For Netflix, I believe the driver is the scalability of AWS. And not just AWS, if projects like OpenStack/CloudStack take off then organizations leveraging the cloud will have a much larger pool of IaaS providers to choose from if they aren’t already leveraging other cloud providers. You can’t easily build that type of redundancy. Even if Netflix chooses to bring their compute in-house, I’m sure they’d benefit from some type of hybrid public/private cloud model.
We have Netflix on one side of the coin and small enterprises on the other. Why engage Google for a Google Apps deployment? Creating an LAN with servers, remote access, office applications, e-mail and collaboration tools is an old trick at this point. This has become a commodity solution where any jack of all trades can get your business up in running. What they can’t do is give you the seamless integration of services and support that a Google Apps or Microsoft 365 can give you. You can also easily share data between your organization and your business partners without worrying about firewalls and user accounts.
A great example is that I use WordPress.com not because it’s less expensive than hosting my own WordPress blog on AWS or any number of hosting providers. I’m obviously capable of hosting a virtual server running WordPress. I choose to run on WordPress.com because I’d rather spend my time doing research and writing vs. patching and maintaining.
Of course, there are considerations to have when it comes to security and features but these issues are slowly but surely being resolved.