The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

What can an ash cloud teach us about cloud computing?

146i05A033D9C3579326Early this week, I saw a note from Christian Verstraete (CTO for HP's Manufacturing and Distributions Industries Worldwide) where he mentioned cloud and the impact of the ash cloud on travel last week:


"Last week, there was only one discussion in EMEA, it was all about volcanoes and ashes. And I can tell you, it became quite heated at multiple moments. This really got me thinking about elasticity. You know, in the cloud space we often speak about elasticity, about the possibility to ramp up capacity quickly. Well, when I ended up spending hours on the phone waiting for the travel desk to address my issue, I can tell you, I would have appreciated some extra elasticity. Indeed, with cloud we now provide elasticity from an IT infrastructure perspective, but elasticity is not part of the design of any other system in the enterprise. Travel operators do not suddenly appear out of the blue to take the extra phone calls that are being made. So, my question is really, aren't we overdoing it on the elasticity front. Indeed, what are the business problems that can be addressed by just throwing some extra IT capacity at them? Well, I came up with a couple, film rendering in the media business, reservoir simulation in Oil & Gas, finite element calculation in discrete manufacturing, genome sequencing in pharmaceuticals. Actually, most of those have been addressed for a while with high performance computing. Now, there are a couple others, like increasing the web site experience even with large amounts of users. But most of our processes require the interaction of IT with other systems (human or machines) which are not infinitely scalable, and for which extra capacity cannot be turned on quickly. So, yes, elasticity is a feature of cloud, it has its space in the portfolio of cloud features, but it is not the panacea that will resolve all problems. In the current hype that is somehow sometimes overlooked."


His entry made me reflect back on a cloud myth post I made a while back.


Many IT organizations view of cloud is from a very limited infrastructure only perspective. That's good, but as Christian points out there are many more levels of flexibility required to actual delivery business value within the business in a flexible fashion. We can't lose sight of why we need the flexibility in our systems and processes and what make cause us to invoke a rapid response. It is the business that needs the flexibility at the end of the day, the systems are just there to support it.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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