Data Center Journal

Volume 27 | May 2013

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Page 31 of 35

Has the A matured? t the heart of the cloud is a swirling mixture of promise, hype and concern. As more companies have turned to this technology and studies have supported it, however, the important question has changed from whether the cloud will mature to when it will mature. To some extent, the answer to this question is blurred by differing definitions of maturity. A mature technology isn't necessarily perfect—but it has reached enough of its potential to compete with other technologies pursuing similar goals. With that broad definition in mind, what is the current state of the cloud? Cloud Hype Research firm Gartner has placed cloud computing on the downhill slide from peak expectations toward the "trough of disillusionment" in its hype cycle. Although skeptics have always voiced their concerns, some cloud proponents have predicted the cloud to be the future of computing, with alternatives eventually falling by the wayside. This technology won't cannibalize more-traditional ("local") computing entirely, but it is carving out a solid role—much as tablets and smartphones are taking a bite out of PCs 30 | THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL cloud By Jeffrey R Clark, Ph.D. in a parallel trend. The promise of the cloud, which tempts companies and consumers with benefits like low startup costs, scalability and accessibility, has driven widespread adoption. One cloud characteristic that aids this trend is it isn't an all-or-nothing proposition: companies running traditional IT implementations can pick and choose from a smorgasbord of cloud options. These services can in many cases supplement (rather than replace) existing ones, so companies have less to lose by trying than if the cloud demanded a complete transition. To be sure, news regarding the cloud isn't always positive: outages of major cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft Windows Azure, and Twitter hit the headlines regularly. Such reports raise questions about availability, one of the major concerns of companies considering outsourcing to the cloud. And that situation is enough to turn off some users, who conclude that although the cloud has value, it has yet to reach maturity. Cloud Hope Cloud providers suffer at least one disadvantage with respect to traditional IT: an outage at Amazon, for instance, affects more than just Amazon—it hurts all the companies that use Amazon's services. This isn't to say that outages at companies with dedicated IT are passed over in the news, but the impact of these "local" outages are more limited. On the other hand, the cloud may have caught up with traditional IT in one critical area: security. An Alert Logic study from 2012 ("State of Cloud Security Report") indicates that the cloud is in most respects just as secure as traditional IT approaches. Certainly, the cloud has peculiar security challenges that traditional IT does not, but it's not inherently less secure than competing approaches. In light of such considerations, although the cloud may fall short of perfection and may carry some downsides (what technology doesn't?), it seems to have gathered enough "juice" to make it a serious competitor—and doesn't that constitute a mature technology? "Startups and newer companies tend to go to the cloud first, because the cost of acquisition can't be beat; it's basically zero," said Noam Shendar, VP of Business Development for Zadara Storage. "Organizations

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