Cloud Countdown C minus 9

As we count down to our cloud announcements at Synergy, let’s take a look today at the applications that have moved to the cloud… and the applications that have not… and why.

It would be a fair statement to say that the larger the company, the more business-critical the application, and the more complex the application… the less likely it has made the move. (But as the saying goes, of course, YMMV – your mileage may vary.)

Let’s look at each of these factors.

Public clouds gained momentum initially with consumer services – everything from personal email to social networking to photo sharing. What do these have in common? They’re complex for an individual to set up – but entirely scalable. Speaking as one who has done so, configuring blogging software or photo gallery software can be complex, and scaling the implementation for large user pools even more so, but the user-facing aspects of that setup scale easily. (As for scaling the infrastructure itself, that’s another story: for instance, the simple MySQL database that supports a single blog or gallery is not the best choice for hundreds of thousands, where we see the need for more NoSQL-type approaches.)

The same considerations apply to online storage, especially for backups and archiving: complex for the individual or small business to set up, but easy to access.

SMB applications are good candidates for use in public clouds as well. For instance, before we joined Citrix, XenSource’s business systems were implemented at a SaaS provider – yielding tremendous savings on infrastructure, and letting us get down to the business of doing business.

Beyond this, for organizations of all sizes, we’ve seen the public clouds, as well as virtual private clouds, used for development, testing, and staging of new applications (and new versions of existing apps). And we are beginning to see other uses in the application lifecycle – during the production phase for dynamically changing workloads, using the cloud to protect performance (bursting) and availability (disaster recovery). At this stage, we see these applied to simpler application deployments; the vast majority of apps in the cloud are discrete apps such as websites, rather than complex multi-tier core business apps.

As the public and private clouds become more connected by applications, though, this hybridization brings with it additional complex requirements – which will be even more necessary to make the cloud the home of complex business-critical apps. More about that later this week.