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The Cloud is Here and Now

I recently heard a cloud presentation by James Staten and that is what inspired this post.

Cloud is not the future, cloud is NOW!

The first thing you need to know is the cloud is not the future, the cloud is NOW!  If you do not have a cloud strategy you are already behind the curve. Many companies are already in the cloud in various degrees and most have at least an initial cloud strategy mapped out.  If the cloud has been brushed off as a fad or it’s not going to happen, you better get on it because the cloud is here and it is here to stay.

Separation of Responsibilities

There are varying degrees of responsibilities when it comes to what you are in control of in the cloud.  The following diagram is the best depiction of what you managed in the different Cloud layouts.

We need to move EVERYTHING to the cloud

This may be one of the biggest misnomers for any organization moving to the cloud.  The first part of making your move to the cloud is planning what applications are good candidates for the move.  Here are some compute patterns which are good candidates to move to the cloud.

Bridge the Gaps

Understand Cloud Architecture

When building applications to run in the cloud you need to be prepared for some architecture changes from traditional architecture for On Premise applications.

Uneven Handshake

The cloud is built for the masses so obviously it is not going to accommodate everyone minute specialized needs.  So when moving to the cloud you have to be prepared for what James called the “Uneven Handshake”  Cloud providers are only going to come so far so you have to be willing to bridge the gap.

Security and Compliance

When speaking to people about Cloud two of the first objections that always come up are Security and Compliance.  Usually it is a broad statement such as “The cloud does not offer you any security since the computers are just sitting out there”.  I can almost guarantee you that the large Cloud Providers spend more on security than many public companies do on their entire infrastructure and the way I look at it is if you have a group that really wants to hack you, they are probably going to find a way to do it.  Large Retailers such as Target, Nieman Marcus, Verizon have been hacked and they met all the PCI compliance.

Many people will object to say that the Cloud does not provide PCI compliance or is it not HIPAA compliant.  There are many parts to HIPAA compliance and Cloud Provider like Microsoft and EC2 will offer a business associate agreement saying their platform is HIPAA compliant.  This is certify that the platform is HIPAA compliance, now YOU need to make sure the applications running on the platform are HIPAA compliant.  This is where the conversation usually breaks down.

Noisy Neighbor

When talking about Cloud computing you have to realize that you are in a data center with probably hundreds of thousands of other applications and you will sometimes run into the “noisy neighbor”.  Since you are sharing compute time with other applications you need to look at how your applications run over long periods of time.  Many people make the mistake of thinking that my application is super-fast at 2 am when nobody else is doing anything do it should be that fast all the time.  I always think of it like this.  We have 3 applications sharing 100% compute time so each gets 33.3% but in times where app1 and app2 are not doing anything app3 may get 60% compute time, but then when app1 and app2 come back on line you are throttled back to you 33.3%.  Many people base the performance on the best case scenario which is never the norm.

In Closing

Just remember the cloud is here and it is not going away.  If you have not already started to think about your cloud strategy going forward you are behind the times.  If you are still under what “The Cloud” is make sure that you talk to someone that can explain it at your level and understands your environment.  The cloud is many different thing to many different people so you need to know how it applies and can help you and your organization.  Can hammer a nail in with a screwdriver?  Yes and it will work eventually, but had you used a hammer it would have been done more efficiently and it was much smoother.  So know all the tools you have in your tool box, understand what you are building and trying to accomplish, and apply the right tools to the appropriate problems and you will usually come out ahead of the game.

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