I had a great time discussing Cloud Security with Mike Masnick of Floor64 and Sam Quigley of Emerose today during an IT Innovations Webinar. During that talk, I discussed my view that Cloud Computing is really two different markets today: “Cloud Forward” & “Cloud Backwards”. As illustrated below, Cloud Forward refers to a market that is composed of new, web-oriented applications and companies that are purpose built to leverage web technologies and Cloud Computing. Think Web 2.0, Social Networks, Social Gaming, etc… most of these companies were engineered to rely on OPI (Other People’s Infrastructure) by design. This is largely because many of them followed a “Lean Startup” path and didn’t have nearly enough capital to build out a robust web datacenter with significantly scalability from the start. In fact, very few companies have that kind of dough. These are the start-ups that have really powered Amazon and other PaaS providers’ rise. But they are completely different from the Cloud Backward market — the desire of many traditional enteprises IT shops and vendors to exploit that same leverage with existing applications. This is a much more challenging market because Cloud Backward is competing against mature, highly-tuned infrastructures that are purpose built for applications with very low latency requirements. The separation of these two markets and the implications it has are far-reaching. For enterprise IT groups and developers, understanding what workload you are dealing with will largely dictate which type of Cloud technology you will use and subsequently which vendor you will be working with. For vendors, there is a stark difference in selling to the Cloud Forward community and the traditional enterprise market, especially as you engineer effective channel strategies for growth. As William Vambenepe states on his blog:
“All in all, the distinction between backward-compatible and forward-compatible Clouds is not a classification (most Cloud environments are a mix). Rather, it’s another mental axis on which to project your Cloud plans. It’s another way to think about the benefits that you expect from your use of the Cloud.”
There will be overlap between the markets. As indicated, at the enterprise level, we see marketing departments as the driving force in approaching Cloud Forward models. Marketing groups are aggressively using new web-based formats to approach, acquire and maintain relationships with customers. Often they are hiring forward-thinking consultants who are comfortable with the Cloud Forward architectural style. The good news is that they are seeing such good results, they are pushing back strongly when internal IT inevitably shows up wanting to rope those workloads back in house. Often internal IT just can’t keep pace with the agility that Cloud Forward provides. However, I believe that we will some internal enterprise groups move aggressively to offer “cloud-like” architectures which move fast enough for marketing departments and have the added advantage of providing familiar security controls that will provide comfort to many executives suites.