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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Cloud computing vs Open Source - Most CIO cannot tell the difference


Few weeks ago, I posted a discussion here in a CIO forum on LinkedIn and frankly some of the comments are very interesting to say the least. Now I decided to bring some technical guys to the discussion table. My argument was and still is as follow
“I have been reading many threads about Cloud computing and I came to conclude that most CIO (maybe because of their business background) do not know the difference or real benefits of Cloud computing or Open Source software.

Hi, I am not expecting everyone to agree with me but here is my argument. Most CIOs are interested in Cloud computing because of cost. COST!!? That's very interesting because to my humble opinion, this only applies to IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). If you do not want to spend money on hardware and be left with redundant system then IaaS is a good approach but that's about it. I work with Cloud computing (specifically SaaS) and this next one might hurt my business but it has to be said; SaaS is not cost saving when you comparing it Open Source alternatives that you can host on your IaaS system…. Read more here
I am not sure that they understood the argument. I was not expecting anybody too agree with me and I wanted CIOs in the group to share their insight not sound like a copy of a Gartner report. Before making any conclusion, keep in mind that I am talking here about Software as a Service (SaaS), as defined here. In network architecture design, the external network  is represented by the “cloud” symbol therefore I would have to agree Wikipedia’s definition of cloud.  It is a software served over an external network regardless of a private network (private cloud) or public network (public cloud). YES – the internet was built on cloud technology. If you use any software over the internet; be it email, search, video or social network, the system is hosted by an external party which you do not have control over. The name cloud is just a marketing gimmick because hosted applications have been around for more than 20 years since Compuserve and Internet Relay Chat (IRC & BBS). So you see, “cloud” is definitely not new. Therefore software delivered over the internet such as Google apps and Salesforce can be also deployed using Open Source alternative. Cloud promises the following: scalability, peace of mind as it maintained by the providers and lower cost. CIO, I will tell you that your software, that it is deployed in the cloud or not will not be able to scale beyond the hardware and network capacity. I have another question for CIOs:

Do CIOs care or know where all their applications are running? 

That question is usually left to the technical team to decide within the budgets of the project and any other company politics. The biggest failures of IT projects is due to the fact that the CIO (or “the business” as it is usually referred as) do not know what they are trying to achieve (lack or misunderstandings of requirements) therefore it goes past the delivery and budget. 

So where does Open Source fits in, one might ask? Open Source software allows a business to take best of breed software and customised them to their own needs for free (as in free beer). If you do not want to support the Open Source software you can get support services but the software is hosted on your own system including your private cloud (Infrastructure as a Service). Let’s put it in to context; if a company requires a CRM system - they can download vTiger, customise it and either support it themselves or buy support. The same goes for an ERP system like Apache Ofbiz and MySQL for database. I am in favour of SaaS offering, after all I run a SaaS-based company. Nevertheless, CIOs do not confuse SaaS as being cheap, if you want something that has a low cost of ownership, then I suggest you go for an Open Source alternative if it exists. So why do I say that most CIO cannot tell the difference; SaaS is not cheap and does not have a lower cost of ownership when comparing it to Open Source alternatives. And by the way, you do not need to have an army of developers to build and customise your Open Source software. Do you really want the SaaS provider on a shared system to have access to your LDAP system? What happens when you want to integrate or port your existing data to your new fancy cloud based system? CIOs should not try to lie to me. I attended many meetings and conferences to know that most of them just want to please the board. What are the differences between cloud and virtualisation? What happens to your existing hardware once you moved your applications to cloud, have you thought of using them for virtualisation? So please do not make uneducated comments as “I don't know a single CIO who can't tell the difference between Cloud Computing & Open Source - maybe I move in different circles.” I am not talking about dictionary or Gartner definitions.  

CIOs, after reading this and before replying you should go and sit down with your technical team and ask them the difference, only after that you can provide a good educated comment. If you want to be on the “cloud” train then you are free to do so but if SaaS is not part of cloud offerings, please feel free to enlighten me as I am always willing to learn something new.
Who should make the decisions to go cloud or not? You are the CIOs, you tell me. Is it the developer, the architect, the project manager or the almighty CIOs from his ivory tower? There is no trickery here, every fool can define a word – just do this; think of a word then Google using the following “what is ‘the word’” then voila your definition. If you need someone to school you up then drop me an email. Based on the comments on LinkedIn, all I can say is WOW. Leave the technical aspect to the technical guys and you can focus on playing golf.



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Item Reviewed: Cloud computing vs Open Source - Most CIO cannot tell the difference Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Armel Nene
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