Technology, Cloud

Is Cloud the "Railway of the 21st Century"

Blog-post by,
HP Blogger
,

The other day I ran into a blog post titled "Logica says cloud is railway of 21st century". I was intrigued by the title, so I went on and started reading. Community clouds, which I have been advocating for quite a while, allow like-minded companies to share information across geographical boundaries in the same way trains used to move goods around the place last century.

But in the same way the movement of goods in the 19th and most of the 20th century was hindered by boarder control and import regulations, the shared information is with compliance regulation. This is something many people have a tendancy to overlook as the correct legislation is not always obvious. For example, the current EU privacy directive is in direct contradiction with the US Patriot Act, and (fortunately or unfortunately?) there has not been any judgement to date defining clear jurisdiction, so things are still in flux. InformationLawGroup has written a number of blog posts on the legal aspects of cloud that I've found quite insightfull, and I'm referring to on a regular basis. 

The concept of a community cloud is appealing, as it allows companies in a common eco-system to interact more smoothly together, facilitating the development of a joint product, the visibility of their supply chain, the sales & operations planning etc. However, there is quite some fear in the business. Why is that the case?

First, remember a little over 10 years ago, we had the famous internet hubs. At the hight of the internet boom, we had about 700 of those, if I count right there are about 4 left. The inability to develop a viable business model killed most of the hubs. The others got hurt by lack of confidentiality of information. One of the interesting aspects of hubs then, and community clouds today, is that some of the companies participating in the eco-system may be competitors elsewhere. So, they are eager to maintain their information assets. Hence the lack of trust that is also highlighted in the blog post.

Using a neutral cloud service provider can actually be an added value. It is not the OEM that hosts the environment (that used to be called private hubs, versus the public hubs), and so the OEM cannot access all information, avoiding the procurement department to have specific details that could help it in the next contract negotiations. And we're back on trust.

Such environment could be funded on a pay-per-use basis. Each partner in the eco-system pays for what he uses. Sounds fair, isn't it? 

The whole issue is how you get there? How do you convince the partners to overcome their lack of trust and start sharing. At HP we have done that by sharing ourselves in the first place, demonstrating to our eco-system that they actually gain from sharing, rather than loose. It often takes about one budget cycle (one year) for them to realize it's beneficial, and then they start sharing. But here comes the compliance and legal aspects. How should we structure the data reservoirs for the eco-system to have access to the appropriate information without bending the rules. For a global supply chain, it may not be in one location, but multiple locations might have to be set-up, complicating the implementation of the collaboration environment.

Clouds are global in nature, but many forget that legislations are still local and driven by local politicians often without a global view. That sub-optimalize the use of clouds. I fear that will be the case for many years to come. Railways used to have different sizes, you remember, fortunately, the industry managed to create standards, allowing trains to cross borders. Electricity levels remained different though, but technology allowed the creation of locomotives capable of running on multiple voltage levels. And then came the TGV and its cross-national projects such as the channel tunnel. Cloud equivalents of these still need to take place prior the cloud becomes the information reservoir and gateway between companies and individuals worldwide. We still have some way to go.

 

(4) (4)

Discussion
Would you like to comment on this content? Log in or Register.
jdodge
John Dodge 1332 Points | Thu, 02/23/2012 - 13:26

Well, we always have a ways to go, don't we. That's life. I am not sure I agree with the analogy. Borders are political in nature and whether they are opened or closed is up to the bureaucrats. However, the cloud and the Internet -- like railroads -- put enormous pressure on decision-makers to open them up. Let's face it: few politicians have a world view....quite the opposite with many of them.

Do I think the cloud will have the same impact as the railroads? No. Railroads launched the industrial revolution and opened the west here in the U.S. More than 150 years after their inception, they still play central roles in the world's transportation infrastructure. The cloud as with all things in technology will come and go in a much shorter span of time...or will morph into something else.

Maybe the cloud will be supplanted by something called "blue sky."

As usual, a thought-provoking post, Christian.

 

Christian
Christian Verstraete 395 Points | Fri, 03/09/2012 - 07:09

Thanks, John. You are actually right, time is schrinking on the one hand, and we IT professionals, have this great skill to rename technologies every 5 years, so the term "cloud" will definitely not be there in 150 years. But the concepts will. The separation of technology and business, where the business consumes technology when required in the same way as electricity (as Nicholas Carr would say). The analogy is not perfect, but it makes seeing the future easier. 

Cloud computing (in its public instance) is actually nothing else than a new form of outsourcing, if you really think about it. T&C's are different, pricing models are different, but the concept is the same. I have somebody else managing the infrastructure I use. Oh, and then, if I use SaaS, well, that's the new version of ASP's (application service providers), you remember? They were in turn an extreme of outsourcing, where not only the infrastructure, but also the application was managed by an external party. It's funny to see how IT keeps re-inventing the same business approaches. Fascinating.

pearl
Pearl Zhu 89 Points | Wed, 02/22/2012 - 18:22

Hi, Christian, interesting blog to analogorize cloud as railway, I would expand, cloud may just like the full transportation eco-system, including all type, air, train, bus, car., etc, and all flavors: public, private or hybrid, and consumers can be fortunately to have the freedom of choices, to leverage speed, cost, security, privacy, flexibility, sustainability, etc, and all critical factors. The point is cloud-economy may need be well planned, architectured, governed by many parties, with long term perspecitive, just read an interesting article about cloud as an adolescent now, hopefully well mature into adult soon. thanks. 

pcalento
Paul Calento 256 Points | Thu, 02/16/2012 - 18:14

Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. The location and safeguards in place for data are some of the most contentious items, legislated or not. Physical sovereignty is a big issue that (arguably) inhibits the scalable cloud.

I just came back from the Cloud Connect conference and a point was made favoring moving the cloud closer to the user, regardless of where they reside ... while the customers want the datacenter centralized to some extent. Isn't cloud a balance between the two?

But changing behavior and regulation isn't easy. Lack of skills (or understanding of the cloud) limits cloud computing today. Showing working community cloud models are a step in the right direction. But there are ways of solving that problem today ... its called innovation, which requires vendors, customers and stakeholders to work together on the solution.

--Paul Calento

(note: I work on projects sponsored by EnterpriseCIOForum.com and HP)

pcalento
Paul Calento 256 Points | Thu, 02/16/2012 - 17:56

Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. The location and safeguards in place for data are some of the most contentious items, legislated or not. Physical sovereignty is a big issue that (arguably) inhibits the scalable cloud.

I just came back from the Cloud Connect conference and a point was made favoring moving the cloud closer to the user, regardless of where they reside ... while the customers want the datacenter centralized to some extent. Isn't cloud a balance between the two?

But changing behavior and regulation isn't easy. Lack of skills (or understanding of the cloud) limits cloud computing today. Showing working community cloud models are a step in the right direction. But there are ways of solving that problem today ... its called innovation, which requires vendors, customers and stakeholders to work together on the solution.

--Paul Calento

(note: I work on projects sponsored by EnterpriseCIOForum.com and HP)

blaberis
Bill Laberis 144 Points | Wed, 02/15/2012 - 15:41

I think perhaps a good measure of that rapid growth in public cloud you mention is the initial 'low hanging fruit' - applications that aren;'t so complianc- and regulation sensitive (I think - I have no data per se to back this up). But you are also correct in positing that some customers may be conveniently giving short shrift and not a whole lot of thought to compliance, setting themselves up for serious issues possibly.

Christian
Christian Verstraete 395 Points | Wed, 02/15/2012 - 08:01

Bill, you highlight one of the key issues with cloud adoption, the global nature of cloud versus the local nature of laws. And you are absolutely correct. But at the same time I keep hearing that Amazon and the others grow their customer base exponentially. And that puzzles me. We know the limits of transparency provided by Amazon and alike. Assessing your compliance in such environments is actually really difficult. So, what is happening? Are enterprises just forgetting about their need of compliance, and are we up for a visible "catastrophe" sooner or later? Or is there something we are missing? I'd like to understand the community point of view on this.

blaberis
Bill Laberis 144 Points | Tue, 02/14/2012 - 15:26

I had actually forgotten about the Internet hubs, probably because they did just go quietly into the sunset. But I am not sure that the broader issue here is more one of basic competitive instinct (complicated to some extent by the vagaries of international business law and regulation - which gets a whole lot more muddled when you go beyond the US-Europe connection and start factoring in the Far East and emerging economies. They play but a totally different set of rules!). And I am not sure that the analogy of trains carrying goods is an accurate one, as we are talking about corporate information and the compliance and regulatory rules unique to individual countries. I can see this concept working well between, say, a company and its partners, even those with whom it engages in 'coopetition; from time to time. Beyond that, I have my doubts about just how much and what kind of information companies are willing to share, regardless of the medium.