Cloud Computing 101: Cloud awash with cloudy concepts (Part Two)

In this three part series Computerworld examines some of the very real risks and shortfalls associated with Cloud Computing and also identifies which areas have the most potential to completely transform the enterprise.

As the most hyped concept in IT today, Cloud Computing has taken spin to a whole new level. Vendor marketing is awash with the benefits of Cloud Computing with little mention of the pitfalls.

See: Cloud computing 101 -- The risks of Cloud computing (Part 1)

In this three part series Computerworld examines some of the very real risks and shortfalls associated with Cloud Computing and also identifies which areas have the most potential to completely transform the enterprise.

Part Two in this series looks at Cloud Parallel Processing and what it means for the enterprise. This is a Cloud concept that is set to transform the world of software development and lead to the creation of truly global class applications.

Part Two also looks at why IT’s romance with Cloud Email faded so quickly.

Cloud Parallel Processing

While this is a technique that has been around for years it is fair to say that most developers are yet to realize the impact of parallelization.

Parallel processing techniques are algorithmic and code-structuring methods that enable the parallelization of program functions.

These techniques have been automated at the processor level, but the coming availability of large-scale grid systems through the adoption of Cloud architecture creates an opportunity to apply these techniques to application system design.

Approaches to parallelism at this level are becoming necessary for applications to leverage the massive amounts of data available from the Web, social networks and large scale systems.

Gartner analyst, Mr Daniel Sholler, said the typical enterprise developer has been shielded from the need to understand how to structure programs for parallelization.

This is because increasingly sophisticated middleware and other system components are provided by vendors.

However, Cloud computing will highlight the need for systems to operate in a highly dynamic grid environment forcing parallel processing techniques to be incorporated into mainstream programs.

Although vendors will continue to package middleware and extreme transaction processing components to simplify parallelization, Mr Sholler said application developers can no longer ignore this concept.

He said very few developers are trained in these tools and techniques so expect a flurry of interest as public and private clouds become more available.

By 2015, Gartner expects there will be a sufficient percentage of developers using these techniques. "Users should determine the timeline for using Cloud and grid-based computing to ensure that appropriate skills are available," Mr Sholler said.

"Business data providers will be the most aggressive in developing systems that use these techniques.

"Parallelisation can create a qualitative shift in user experience, which results from dramatically speeding certain processes.

"By enabling decisions in seconds that currently take days and weeks, businesses create new opportunities for managing their processes, and for increasing the accuracy and cycle times of decision making."

Email not so white-hot

There are some Cloud offerings that became wildly popular before take-up even began. One example is Cloud Email which was the white-hot topic for IT professionals just a couple of years ago but today has lost a lot of its appeal.

Cloud email is basically a vendor-offered, multitenant, Internet delivered email service that is scalable and flexible.

When this concept first emerged IT professionals were drawn in by the lure of rock bottom pricing but uptake has been much slower than many first predicted.

Gartner estimates that the percentage of corporate mailboxes using Cloud services will be 10 per cent by the end of 2012. In 2008, Gartner predicted takeup would be closer to 20 per cent by 2012. So what happened?

According to Gartner analyst Tom Austin the cost savings aren’t as great as initially expected. “Savings may not be so great for large organisations especially those with highly customized email environments,” he said.

"As a result organisations should approach Cloud email with caution. These services are immature in their ability to provide a rich management and reporting infrastructure.

"In some cases Cloud email services lack features commonly found with on-premises email systems."

Surprise, surprise putting the word Cloud in front of email doesn't make it a better service. Obviously an organisation should assess internal email costs to ascertain if a move to the Cloud makes economic sense.

Mr Austin said an organisation should examine where they are in the email cycle as ROI isn't going to be that great if an enterprise has just undergone a version upgrade or vendor migration.

"Companies on the brink of changing email vendors should look more closely at Cloud email," he said.

"Also organisations with large populations of users that don't rely heavily on email services such as retail, manufacturing or hospitality, could benefit from Cloud email immediately.

“Another beneficiary is small to medium enterprises. This is because the more complex the requirements the lower the cost benefits.”

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