It’s funny how different eyes see the same thing in different ways. Whereas Nick Eaton and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sees Gartner’s prediction of 18 percent growth for SaaS as a ringing endorsement of “cloud computing,” Larry Dignan at ZDNet sees the $7.5 billion revenue as being far less than the traditional software market. As with many things in life, the answer lies in the middle. SaaS is far from ubiquitous, but that it changing: Customers increasingly cite SaaS as a near-term goal, and SaaS startups keep getting more money. For an example of the latter, see Apprenda, which just got another $5 million for its SaaS-optimized application server.
I am not surprised that the Sidekick data-loss story still is big news, but I am surprised that its association with cloud computing has not yet deteriorated. I understand that “the cloud” has taken on an expanded meaning beyond its architectural-diagram beginnings, but some of what those diagrams connoted must hold true: that distributed architectures are supported by capabilities like failover, continuous availability, redundancy, automation, etc. A data center is not a cloud just because it houses data used by a remote device. But the Sidekick data debacle does underscore some inherent dangers of actual cloud computing, and teaching points can be drawn from it.
I don’t which IBM news item took me more by surprise today, its Lotus cloud e-mail service (which is cheaper and, allegedly, more reliable than Google Apps), or its Hadoop-powered data analysis platform, M2. Both should be instant successes, and both demonstrate that IBM really understands the enterprise. Speaking of enterprises, Forrester released the results of a survey indicating that practically no enterprises are using IaaS. These surveys seldom seem to tell the whole story (although Forrester appears to have broken this one down into useful subcategories), so it is best to analyze them against the entirety of the information available, including anecdotal evidence.
It has been a rough week for the mighty Google, whose relatively brief outages have been analyzed at a level generally reserved for presidential elections – even bringing some conspiracy theories out of the woodwork. Not surprisingly, cloud computing as a paradigm continues to catch a lot of shrapnel from these attacks on Google. But if you ask me, that’s undeserved: Google’s basic suite of cloud services are not the equivalent of commercial-grade SaaS offerings, nor is Google’s underlying architecture a cloud of the ilk large companies would use, and they should not be talked about as such.
Cloud security has received a lot of attention over the past few weeks as result of both the RSA Conference and the Black Hat Europe taking place in mid- to late-April. The RSA Conference, especially, got boatloads of attention thanks to the Cloud Security Alliance making its official debut at the event. And while I’m happy security is getting all of this attention — it’s a huge concern — I’m afraid the rosy state of affairs being conveyed by certain experts will actually have a negative effect on the industry.