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Interview: David Chappell about Cloud Hype and Reality March 3, 2011

Posted by Wolfgang Tonninger in Business, Dynamic_Systems, Interviews, Microsoft, Trends, Wertschöpfung.

David Chappell, Chef von Chappell & Associates in San Francisco, ist Berater, Buchautor und begehrter Redner in Sachen Technologievermittlung und Technologiebewertung. Wir trafen David Chappel nach seiner Keynote für den Microsoft Virtualization Day 3.0 im Hotel Savoyen.

BIZofIT: Mr. Chappell, that cloud is one of the strongest hypes we have seen in IT-history is no secret anymore. What are the signs that it is more than that – a paradigm shift like client server was for mainframe computing?

imageDavid Chappell: Lets break the answer apart into three big pieces. 1) First of all cloud applications. Cloud apps are not hype because they made Marc Benioff a billionaire. Salesforce.com CRM is very successful and proofs that cloud apps can work. People love this product. The same holds true for Google apps and Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite, Office 365). In the app space we already have big succeess stories and more will come with e-mail and Exchange. The move to the cloud is happening right now. Like with 2) the private part of cloud platforms, the piece of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). If you have VMs today, I can tell you that you will have a private cloud in the next few years. Because both, VMware and Microsoft are moving their products into this direction. Why? Because it definitely makes sense and it´s a clear evolution.

… if you don´t like change, you better don´t work in IT!

3) In case of public cloud platforms – like Amazon EC2 and Windows Azure – things are a bit less clear, in part because Amazon doesn´t report revenues. But the estimates agree on that Amazon, who is the big fish here right now for revenue, will be a billion dollar business in the next couple of years. That means, they are meeting really customer demand and they are running usefull services. You don´t build a million dollar business with hype. It´s reality. I am not concerned anymore that the cloud is just hype. Yes, there is a lot of hype. But there is a lot of success too.

BIZofIT-2: When you talk about the cloud you say that the cloud helps to reduce complexity.

David Chappell (grinning): Did I say that? I doubt it.

BIZofIT: What I wanted to pose is that for companies the infrastructure tasks are becoming more and more complex and the cloud may help to reduce this complexity.

David Chappell: I think this is a fair statement, the cloud certainly can help reduce complexity. But it also can make complexity worse, at least in the short run. If I am moving some parts of my e-mail infrastructure into the cloud, I will have some apps in the datacenter and some in Windows Azure. This might be cheaper and better, but not necessarily less complex because I will have to manage both worlds. Anyway, it´s very hard to deal with this kind of broad generalizations about cloud technology because it always depends on what you are doing, and what you mean in each case – cloud apps, cloud platforms, public platforms, private platforms.

BIZofIT: The customers want the freedom of choice but like to blink the fact that going for a very individual mix of on-premise and cloud may also cause extra headaches.

David Chappell: You are right. More options can make your life better in various ways at the risk of raising complexity.

BIZofIT: Not to forget all these new vendors entering into an almost exploding cloud market. How companies can compare the cloud offerings and where are we in terms of standardization?

David Chappell: We are nowhere. Take cloud platforms. There aren´t any viable standards out there right now, nor will there be for some period of time. User groups can define whatever they want – as long as the vendors don´t support them, they are irrelevant.

BIZofIT: But how it comes that the IaaS offerings you mentioned in your keynote today are better to compare?

David Chappell: Simply because they are more similar and service is the same. It´s not because of standards. People are offering VMs on demand and it´s pretty clear, that it´s always a VM (virtual machine) that runs Linux or Windows. Whereas if you compare AppForce (Salesforce.com) to Windows Azure they are pretty different. They are both PaaS, but they have different kinds of apps, different languages – they are different in many ways. This variation you don´t see that much in IaaS. That´s what I meant. But in terms of real standards (defined by standardization bodies) there is nothing really happening in the cloud.

BIZofIT: Maybe this is also part of the hesitation coming from the customer side. That they are waiting for cloud standards.

David Chappell: I don´t think so. I´ve done hundreds of talks around Azure and other cloud platforms around the world – and I almost never was asked this question. People want to save money and want to have lower risks. What I´ve experienced so far, the driving forces are always security and cost issues.

BIZofIT: How you value forecasts which estimate a cloud engagement of almost 80% of the companies within some years?

David Chappell: Again. Talking about the cloud is inherently confusing. You have to make clear what you mean – cloud applications, public cloud platforms or private cloud platforms? If they mean that 80% of the companies will have private clouds, I totally agree. If they mean that 80% of the companies will do something in the public cloud, I totally agree. But to estimate that 80% of all applications will be run in the cloud within some years, is nuts.

BIZofIT: How you respond to people´s fear concerning the cloud?

David Chappell: Well, public cloud apps, public cloud platforms are threatening in many ways to inhouse IT departments. If your job is running Exchange for example and your company moves to „Exchange Online“ your job, as you know it, is gone – unless you´re willing to change. But this holds true to anybody who works in IT – whether as administrator, developer or whatever. Who thinks that his current skillset will last his whole carreer, is wrong. So, if you don´t like change, you better don´t work in IT.

BIZofIT: Thanks for the talk.



1. virtualphil - August 2, 2011

When you throw the “hosted” application like Salesforce into the “cloud”, then “cloud” is big. The fact that it was available BEFORE the current XaaX onslaught should mean something though.

Remotely hosted application with locally stored data and remotely hosted application with remotely stored data are also 2 different paradigms under the “cloud” umbrella.

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