Economic Downturn Driving Cloud Computing Evolution

October 11, 2008 - 2 Comments

“Desperate times call for desperate measures”. — Not sure who said this originally, but some attribute it to Guy Fawkes in 1605. There was an article I was just reading on Data Center Knowledge that got me thinking a bit. In periods of economic uncertainty, especially when the capital for large-scale build-outs may be hard to raise in the debt markets or at least much more expensive to raise people turn to look at other options that enable them to continue to meet end-user and business demands for IT services. Sometimes they need capacity, sometimes IT just needs the time to focus on new projects. Enter Cloud Computing, or as we may describe it here, ‘Hosting Evolved’. The key benefits that I see to a cloud architecture from the client side are as follows:1) Can expand amount of resources applied against a given workload without having to front the capital and without having to build in advance of demand2) Do not have to build the expertise in areas like HVAC, Electrical and Mission-Crticial Facility Design/Operation in-house – let someone else deal with it3) Can be part of a business continuance and disaster recovery strategy4) Can enable a stateless computing architecture when coupled with other technologies like VDIThe client-side negatives generally are in the area of data security and integrity and the perennial decision of whether to use any sort of hosted architecture for mission-critical or ‘core’ IT applications.On the hosting provider side I would differentiate a cloud model from traditional hosting by using a software versus hardware corollary. Cloud COmputing depends on software provisioning, software defined workload containers, and software abstractions between physical and logical and from one tenant to another. Traditional hosting by contrast deploys separate physical hardware per customer- servers, network, storage, SLB, and security;, rarely shares resources between customers, and has a physical layer delay on the instantiation of a customer service.As providers evolve from traditional hosting they may be facing a window of opportunity in the current, rather dismal, economic outlook. I always believe that these periods of economic malaise are the opportune time for the swift and bold to break into new markets or to transform themselves. There will be a set of customers in the enterprise looking to lower costs, defer capital or wait until they can raise it, and offload non-core IT processes. The question is will there be enough Service Providers there to support the increase in demand and do so in a scalable and operationally efficient fashion. A cloud computing architecture may provide this.What do you see as the infrastructure change required to enable a traditional hosting provider to move from a physical hosting architecture to a more virtualized one? One with portable workload virtual machines, segmented from each other, and the ability to move workload within pods/containers/rows within the data center.dg

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  1. To paraphrase a bit we are at a point where IT leaders in the enterprise must make a choice about the future directions of their investments and how they maximize business value from them. Service Provider investment in hosted architectures that allow for capacity-on-demand services as well as business continuance services on top of a flexible software platform will have a clear advantage in working with the enterprises in streamlining their operations.

  2. You have a valid point about capital markets and their affect on infrastructure spending. Though all I think it is doing is highlighting a key point. – If you aren’t directly addressing the needs of the business, and more importantly helping the business to make money – you are doing the wrong thing.Enterprises facing very similar issues as service providers. They have to provide multiple services, that can be deployed quickly, while keep these services highly secure and available. And to top it off, they have to do this while keeping costs down.Luckily the components of Cloud Computing (systems, storage, network, and application virtualization) all come into play in helping organizations meet these goals. IT organizations who leverage these tools to turbocharge business initiatives will be (and are) rewarded. While organizations who play the same old organic growth and silo’d systems game will be sure to see cut backs.Is this changing economy the end of the world? I vote no. Just a few short years ago we were reeling from the after affects of the DotCom bust. But you know what, if you could prove a Return On Investment you could still get a project through. The same thing rings true today.All that is happening is an acceleration of the move from IT as a cost center, to IT as a business accelerator. They sky isn’t falling, the world isn’t exploding, our jobs are just evolving. Those who get that message to evolve will be just fine, those that don’t will be left behind. –Colin