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Cloud Expo: Article

Economic Downturn Helps Drive Cloud Evolution

As providers evolve from traditional hosting they face a window of opportunity in the current, rather dismal, economic outlook

Douglas Gourlay's Blog

As providers evolve from traditional hosting they may be facing a window of opportunity in the current, rather dismal, economic outlook: Cloud Computing.

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 demand

2) 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 it

3) Can be part of a business continuance and disaster recovery strategy

4) Can enable a stateless computing architecture when coupled with other technologies like VDI

The 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.

More Stories By Douglas Gourlay

Douglas Gourlay is the Vice President of Marketing for Cisco’s Data Center Solutions Group.

Douglas Gourlay leads global marketing for Cisco’s Data Center technologies. As Vice President of Cisco’s Data Center Solutions Group, Gourlay defines and executes Cisco’s global marketing strategy for data center, virtualization, and cloud computing solutions. This includes the Nexus and Catalyst Data Center Switches, Application and Server Load-Balancing, Storage Networking, Blade Switching, and Wide-Area Application Services product families and their IT solutions.

Since 1998 Gourlay has led and contributed to numerous hardware, software, and systems architecture developments across Cisco. He has served as senior director of product management for the Nexus Family of Data Center switches, director of product management for the Catalyst® 6500 Series of LAN Switches, and led product management for Cisco’s Application Delivery product family. Gourlay has filed or holds more than 20 patents in networking technologies.

Prior to Cisco Gourlay was an industry consultant and served as a US Army Infantry Officer.

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Most Recent Comments
John Qualls 10/15/08 10:21:44 AM EDT

I agree with Douglas Gourlay. Cloud computing is a great solution for companies seeking survival strategies during the economic downturn. With capital shortages, a monthly subscription allows companies to manage their cash flow, investing in only the capacity they need today.

The added protection of back-up functions and recovery capability protect current day-to-day operations in even the worst disasters.

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