Reality Check: Data Center & Cloud Computing

Last week I visited the “Data Center & Cloud Computing” trade-show in Paris and talked to many exhibitors about their usage of public cloud infrastructures, their perception of services like Amazon EC or Rackspace, and the impact they might have on their business. The term “cloud computing” was omnipresent in almost all panels and discussions about IT organization, data center design, and software development. It was written on many banners, boot headers and brochures, but still people understand completely different things by it. It seems to cause as much rejection and fear as well as enthusiasm and hope. Here a collection of my impressions and discussion points that struck me…

Rejection & Fear

Rejection and fear often comes from existing hosters and managed service providers. There arguments against public cloud computing infrastructures:

  • The question of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and service guarantees that include penalties for service outages
  • Performance guarantees
  • Security Concerns and data protection
  • Trust in local providers

They see a risk in the fact that IT transforms into a fully industrialized service with few big players that are – moreover – only coming from the US. Some have also built a differentiating core competence in managing IT more efficiently and negotiating better service contracts than their competitors – they fear to  loose this competitive advantage when cloud infrastructures becomes mainstream. In addition, there are fears of the system administrators that are confronted with the unknown and forced to learn a lot of new things and change well established processes.

Enthusiasm & Hope

Enthusiasm and Hope mainly comes from new players in the field, startups, and managed service providers. They see new business models and the possibility to start a software service with few capital expenses. Agile development finally found its friendly counterpart: agile deployment that no longer hurts at the bottlenecks of IT processes and static equipment.

But also established players including hosters see new opportunies, especially the opportunity to decomplexify IT processes and more cost effectiveness due to pay-per-use models. Some open-source partisans also expressed the hope that cloud computing infrastructures strengthen the open-source movement. I met also several companies – established hosters as well as new players – that offer pay-per-use models on top of their own data centers and started to offer resources the cloud way including APIs.


Cloud computing is omnipresent in all discussions on IT management, hosting and data centers. Amazon EC2 is the dominating name for cloud infrastructures. Young companies start using it, established ones anticipate the impact of cloud services and even consider it a strategic must to show presence in the domain.

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