Cloud Computing… just another word for hosting?

I’ve recently interviewed hundreds of independent software vendors about their cloud aspirations. An interesting find was that the large majority of respondents stated that their business drivers towards the cloud was scalability and deployability. Fair enough. But aren’t those also the drivers for hosting and virtualization?  Is the cloud just a more refined architecture for hosting and virtualization? Or could it be more?

What excites me about cloud computing is the degree of integration and interoperability within a cloud. The physical cloud offers near limitless storage capacity and computing power. Capacity, power, integration and interoperability offer the ingredients for more that just a more scalable and deployable virtual hosting environment.

FIRSTLY ARCHITECTURE… think about what is done on the client and what at the server end. The cloud will inevitably drive computational tasks away from the client and into the cloud. The role of the client is becoming more driven towards providing a high quality user interface. Most devices are networked and have real time access to the cloud. Most applications do not need extensive off-line capabilities. Also, to be a true cloud solution your solution should be multitenanted. Running multiple instances in the cloud is just having it hosted, but not a true cloud solution.

SECONDLY EXPANDED VALUE… think about core functionality for your solution. Now think about a second layer of added value that is not core. Can this value be offered through integrating with other solutions in the cloud or information mashups between a number of providers?

THIRDLY BUSINESS MODEL AND COMMUNITIES… think of your business model. Yes, going from perpetual to monthly models is typical for the on-demand cloud, but how would it differ from a normal hosted model? Think about the integration and interoperability. Can your solution become communal? Communities are a beautiful captive source of services revenue and potential for add on sales. Not only your services, but services provided by a partner community. Also think of user generated content and how you can broker intelligence between users of your solution. Don’t just think what value the generated intelligence would have for you or your clients, but new audiences (look at Code Name Dallas).

The above three values really come to life in a Microsoft PaaS setting opposed to an Amazon IaaS setting.


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