When I was young, I remember my mom telling me to get my "head out of the clouds." I surmised that I must already have a wealth of experience with the cloud because I was given this specific piece of advice many times. That said, at times the cloud can seem a bit "hazy" and "fluffy" (yes, puns intended). So I wanted to explore whether making it a bit more personal would help clear things up a bit. Here's what I discovered.
Here, there and everywhere - usage of the term cloud these days seems almost as vast as the sky itself. Definitions vary, but I've seen definitions of the cloud range from technology (hybrid deployment, virtualization, SOA) to business value (reduced TCO, faster time to value) and everything in-between (elasticity, agility).
The image below represents SAP's current cloud portfolio. It's pretty nifty, but still feels a bit abstract for me. So I asked myself the question, "Does this approach to categorizing cloud solutions work for me personally?" And that's where I began my exploration.
SAP Cloud Portfolio
I've Got Problems...
In order to answer this question, I needed to first answer a related question…Why does little ole-me need the cloud anyway? It was insightful to take a step back and summarize my individual challenges and needs that would even necessitate looking to the cloud.
I've always been a geek at heart. Since the early days of computing, I enjoyed building computers piece-by-piece, configuring servers, connecting networks, and more. I was convinced that I could easily setup and manage hardware & software right inside my house for anything I wanted to do, and started down this road with deploying mail servers, file servers, virtualization infrastructure, among other technologies - all within the four walls of my home. I fussed endlessly with server and network configurations just to make components "see" each other, let alone interoperate. Sure it was fun (for my geek side), but it came with a definite level of frustration.
It didn't take me long to realize that I lacked a serious amount of time, money, and skills to continue down that path. But I also knew that I would always have (and in some cases want) certain pieces of hardware and content locally, such as my laptops, tablets, and large-scale local backup devices (e.g. for video). I also knew that with the plethora of different devices out there, it was no longer feasible (or even desirable) to try to install and manage software locally on each machine. Heck, with the variety of devices I use today, I can't even install the same piece of software on every device even if I wanted to. And when I did install software, I faced the challenge of different versions on different machines with different operating systems with….you get the idea.
...And I Want Some Answers
OK, I now better understand my challenges and frustrations. But could the "cloud" really bring solace to my situation? What do I really want and need from the cloud anyway? Based on my grumblings above, here's what I came up with:
Less of IT–Let someone else manage the technology.
Apps, Apps, Apps– Simply, apps that do what I need…finance, shopping, infrastructure maintenance, etc.
Works with My Stuff – Needs to work with what I already have in place (e.g. PCs, storage, etc).
On My Terms – Allow me to adopt only what I want and only when I need it. I may be ready to shop in the cloud, but not do my taxes up there.
Stretchy – Scales to whatever I need. With my wife's HD video production business, I need to store huge amounts of data.
It Better Work – I better be able to access it consistently and reliably.
Smooth as Silk– It needs to work seamlessly with the way I live and work. No more copying/moving/versioning files everywhere.
Many of these needs sound eerily similar to the proclaimed benefits of the cloud. Now the core question…can the cloud really do all of that...for me?