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The real cloud computing revolution

Bernard Golden | July 2, 2014
Reports of cloud computing's death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, a visit to the recent Cloud World Forum proved that companies of all shapes and sizes see the public cloud as an effective response to the stimulus of competitive conditions, even if many cloud vendors still think it's 2009.

Lotus F1 Car and COO Patrick Louis
At left, Lotus F1's raison d'etre. Real-time analytics, hosted in the cloud, help the team drive these cars to the checkered flag. At right, Louis delivers his presentation in a race suit. Credit:Bernard Golden

My last post noted that the IT industry appears to suffer from cloud computing ennui, as the number of Google searches for the term over the past two years has dropped significantly. I also said that other evidence indicates that many IT users appear to have put cloud computing in the "done and dusted" category despite not really understanding it very well.

I went on to say that, far from being completed, cloud computing growth is accelerating. The biggest challenge to IT is that end users, frustrated with the leisurely pace of internal IT group cloud implementations, will solve their problems by placing applications in public cloud computing environments.

Predictably, the comments disagreed with me. One took a blase attitude toward the embrace of public clouds, citing the repeated "outsource, than insource" waves within IT and suggesting we'll soon see a move away from public cloud computing. Another viewed public cloud adoption as a short-term dalliance, as "it's been proven that in many cases public clouds are more expensive TCO than an in house or a rack in a colo, especially for relatively steady loads."

In other words, public cloud computing is a trend destined to die out, or at least be limited to atypical use cases, with the preponderance of application deployments following the time-honored practice of internal data center placement.

Companies Buck 'Conventional Wisdom,' Embrace Cloud
Last week, at the Cloud World Forum in London, I saw how this public/internal struggle plays out in the real world. It was an eye-opening experience. One thing I like about CWF is its heavy emphasis on case studies presented by end users. I attended three presentations that show how companies embrace public cloud computing to solve problems that traditional IT practices can't address.

Lotus F1 COO Patrick Louis discussed his team's embrace of cloud computing to support its race calendar. While I was aware of the extensive telemetry data race cars produce, I hadn't appreciated how dynamic an F1 team's cars are during the year's schedule of races. Not only must the car be modified for each race course's unique configuration, the modifications are performed during practice runs and even during the race, based on the conditions of the specific race (temperature, humidity, and so on).

Lotus requires a huge amount of historical data as well as real-time data to respond to these conditions and makes its car as competitive as possible. In the past, this meant Lotus transported large amounts of equipment to each site. Now it's using public cloud computing to increase capacity and reduce costs.


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