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The story around the Cloud is about the efficiencies that can be gained using distributed computing and virtualization

Mike Workman's Blog

Most Cloud providers let you run apps of any kind on their compute, store, and connectivity resources. Salesforce, which up until now limited themselves to their own apps for SFA and CRM, has declared itself a Cloud Computing company. In their case they really are a Cloud Computing Company, but I am going to try to outline this whole phenomenon and discussion in terms that I can relate to. Perhaps you can too.

My friend Tom Mornini of Engine Yard pointed out that the Type 2 analogy was a bit pejorative; he thought it was a negative slant on Cloud computing. So I put the Type 1 analogy in; talk to anyone who owns a boat – 4 out of 5 will tell you that it might be a lot less work and more bang for the buck to ride around in one than to have the headaches of owning one. By the way, Tom wrote a great article on Cloud computing.

Of course to some, owning anything and staffing it is an advantage, especially if it includes proprietary “secret sauce”. So, the beauty of the Cloud is in the eye of the beholder. My mother-in-law uses gmail – and if she could get rid of her computer, she would. We’ve been through this before. Remember WebTV? Your computer was a set-top box. Or your set-top box was your computer.

For lots of IT infrastructure companies it doesn’t really matter. If Pillar sells storage to end users or to people who sell the storage as a service, all is well. People still need to store stuff. We have many customers who do just that.

Pillar sells an Enterprise class product – the Axiom. This matters because data centers that offer cloud computing must be highly reliable, fault tolerant, performance resilient (under fault), serviceable, and virtualized. Pillar’s QoS offers Cloud providers far more than just storage; it gives them the ability to gain the huge efficiencies they need from their capital assets that classical storage solutions don’t allow.

It seems to me that the story around the Cloud is about the efficiencies that can be gained using distributed computing and virtualization. If a Customer is big enough to have a an efficient IT infrastructure, outsourcing brings no more efficiency than the standard “this isn’t a core competency” argument. For small organizations, the efficiency of sharing the Cloud with lots of other small customers can be significant.

So, bring on the Cloud! Of course, a slight interruption in Google’s Cloud and gmail service, say for preventative maintenance, for a year or so, would also be appreciated; I would just have to do without hearing from my mother-in-law for a year. Gad!! (You see, one man’s downtime is another’s silver lining!!)

About Mike Workman
Mike Workman is Chairman & CEO of Pillar Data Systems. He has spent his career breaking new technical ground in the storage industry. In his 25+ years in the storage business, Mike's appointments have included vice president of worldwide development for IBM's storage technology division, senior vice president and CTO of Conner Peripherals, and vice president of OEM storage subsystems for IBM. He has a PhD and Masters from Stanford, a Bachelors degree from Berkeley and holds over fifteen technology patents.

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