Cloud Computing: Vision or Reality

My name is Annie Shum, VP of Advanced Technology at Amdocs. It is worth noting that my recent decision to join Amdocs happily coincided with why Amdocs decided to hire me: namely, Amdocs’ commitment to innovating Cloud services in the emerging Cloud era.

With the advent of Cloud Computing, the long-standing vision of “Computing as a Utility” is beginning to take shape. Since the early days of time-sharing computing, that vision has taken a quantum leap towards reality. One of the earliest references to Utility Computing occurred in 1961 at the MIT Centennial. On that occasion, John McCarthy presented his vision of computing organized as a public utility. Just as the telephone system had developed into a major industry, Professor McCarthy envisioned that “Computing as a Utility” could one day become the basis of a new and important public industry.

Simply put, rooted in the long-standing vision and dream of “Computing as a Utility” that began more than half a century ago, the genesis of Cloud Computing goes back a long way. To a growing number of industry observers, it is an old idea whose time may have finally arrived when, in 2006, Amazon began offering Cloud infrastructure services to the public as a utility. Despite initial skepticism, it was a watershed event in the quest of Utility Computing and helped to usher in the first wave of industrial-strength commercial Cloud Computing offerings.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman and Chief Executive has stated that Cloud computing will be “the defining technological shift of our Generation”. However, the media and vendor-spun hype (at times referred to as “cloud-washing”) around this topic has created an unprecedented level of confusion. Today, unabated sound and fury surrounding the Cloud Computing buzz continues and indeed, increases. Nevertheless, it is all but certain that there will be no “big or easy switch” for enterprise IT to transition overnight from running applications on premises to the Cloud. Because the shift is not an “all-or-nothing” or a “one size fits all” endeavor, stakeholders of judicious enterprises should take a measured approach to balance different tradeoffs.

Carl Brooks observes, “Cloud Computing isn’t a technological breakthrough as much as it is a process breakthrough.” It is not really a new technology as much as a new way to architect how IT delivers value. To wit: a new set of delivery and deployment service models. By separating hype from reality, business decision-makers and IT professionals should strive to understand how Cloud Computing transforms the way IT delivers value to business by taking “something old, something new and something borrowed.” IT organizations can mitigate their risk in adopting Cloud Computing by pre-identifying “Cloudy-friendly” business processes. Above all, it will be critically important to design collaboratively cost-effective Hybrid Cloud architecture and business strategies to solve current and future business problems.

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