Defining and Exploring Clouds: Mission Impossible?

There are two cloud words that might be relevant to our new usage of the term Clouds; Duplicatus and Fractus.  The first "Duplicatus", translates to double, but in the world of clouds, basically means connected, and is certainly a form of clouds we will want to achieve.  While the second word "Fractus" means irregular shredded appearance and is a cloud form that we most likely will want to avoid.  In simple terms we want connected clouds and not shredded ones.  Assuming that we all agree that there are many cloud forms, (I still remember with pride being able to identify a Cumulonimbus, that pile of lumpy clouds that bring rain). our challenge is to be able to identify the New Cloud Forms.

On Friday March 20th, in a meeting hosted by Augere in Regents Street, the Jericho Forum progressed our Collaborating Securely in the Cloudas agenda.  Among other valuable activities, we refined our definition of the "Cloud Forms" , and developed a skeletal set of Use Cases for the eight cloud forms that we have identified and encapsulated in our Cloud Cube. (The presentation might help right brained folks)

The term Cloud was originally used in IT to describe the shift from Leased Lines to Packet Switch networks, where the network components were abstracted from the network user, bandwidth being made available on demand to wherever the Cloud was connected.  The early usage of the term Cloud thus involved; Virtualisation of the Transport Layer, Massive Scalability, Pay by the Packet, Increased Reliability and Automated Redundancy.  Assuming that we hold these same features to be true in future uses of the term Cloud, we can see that the current fashion of appending the term to everything internet related is often a falsehood, as Larry Ellison so eloquently pointed out in his Anti-Cloud Computing Rant!  My response, it is called the Hype Cycle for a reason, I can recall, way back when, listening to someone, who shall remain nameless, suffice to say he was wearing Jeans, a T-Shirt and braces, describing Relational Databases as the answer to "Life the Universe and Everything".  Let's help the cycle along... I want to get through the trough of despair!!!

So what IS the position of the Jericho Forum with respect to the New Cloud forms?  The first is that not everything is best implemented in the Clouds, it is perfectly possible, and sometimes preferable, to implement systems in a traditional / de-perimeterised manner.  The second is that having decided which information or processes can benefit from the Clouds, it is important to define the level of abstraction.  Abstraction is currently occurring mostly around the platform and the infrastructure layers, ie Cloud Storage, Cloud Servers.  The third, and this is likely to be controversial to some, it is possible to select the degree of Cloud Translucency.  Cloud Translucency being a measure of "Cloudiness" consider it as a sliding scale from Traditional (ie Not Cloud) to Full On Cloud.  At present due to the immaturity of many of the Cloud Layers it is not possible to select "Full On Cloud" for some Cloud applications.  Take for example Social Bookmarking; today one can achieve many Cloud features but not full reducndancy, as will be recognised by the users of Magnolia. (Today I have implemented an improved degree of Social Bookmarking redundancy for myself by automatically posting my Bookmarks to both Diigo and Del.icio.us, this is however a manual form of redundancy, in that I will have to switch to which ever service survives.)

We have identified 4 criteria to differentiate Cloud Forms and the manner of their provision:

1) External or Internal - Where does the Cloud physically exist, inside or outside your firms physical boundaries?

2) Proprietary or Open - What standards or products are used to construct the Cloud, this signals the degree of interoperability, as well as enabling "Data Transportability", a key Cloud Attribute, avoiding a dreaded future issue of "Cloud Lock-in", more on that in a later Blog.

3) Perimeterised or De-Perimeterised - Are you operating inside your IT Perimeter or outside it?  Most initial forays into Cloud Computing with Amazons SC3 are likely to be Perimeterised. Imagine squeezing a balloon full of water between your fingers the bits that pop out between your fingers would represent the SC3 component.

But how to describe De-Perimterised Cloud usage?  This is turning out to be the hardest to describe as we have identified that the detailed description changes, though not the underlying intent, based on the level of abstraction at which one chooses to operate in the Clouds.  I am sure you understand that it is natural there will be some hard thinking to do on "Collaborating Securely in the Clouds", this is Jericho Forum's current strategic focus.  We welcome folks who want to contribute to this thinking.

4) Insourced, Hybrid, or Outsourced - Who is managing the delivery of the service?

Your mission should you choose to accept it:
Is to decide which Cloud Forms are best suited for what parts of your organisation.


Hint: Think: Customer In, Not Product Out!



This Blog Won't Self Destruct in the Next 30 Seconds!

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Onwards from the Mission Impossible Theme...

At the meeting we also made progress on our "De-P Self Assessment Tool",  discussed the Maturity of the Clouds and recognised the need for much more Openness and Transparency, and probably most importantly the need for Cloud Identity Services. We see Cloud Identity Services as a framework that will enable the development of multiple Cloud Identity Service Providers that will in turn become the life blood of the Sweet Spot in the Clouds, that point where Prosumers and Enterprises meet to do business.

(Seems like I have found some potential topics for future Blogs, in the meantime have fun in the Clouds....

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