The phrase has been buzzing since about a decade now, but unfortunately over 75% professionals I come across nod their head pretending to understand all about it, but are clearly looking at infinity figuring how to make this guy shut up.
Former Indian Income Tax Department’s additional commissioner once went on-record saying that India’s Unique Identification Number program (similar to US-SSN, Canada SIN programs) will not work because the data is on cloud and “if it rains, the data will leak from the cloud”
So, here’s your pocket guide to Cloud Applications lingo, take away 2-3 things from this article, just throw them out randomly in your next meeting and watch everyone else nod their heads.
An example scenario –
In your next meeting when you hear the word “Cloud”, get alert and say “There are all different types of Cloud services SaaS / Paas / IaaS / RaaS. What kind of Cloud model are you suggesting because it will make sense only if we consider the SaaS model?” Chances are that the conversation would end over there, but in case someone googles SaaS quickly, go to the white board and write–
SaaS – Software as a Service – “pieces of SaaS have technically existed since 1960s (remember centralized hosting, IBM mainframes). With web based UI and the power of internet, fancy names like Cloud and SaaS are attached to it. It really means we will not have any ownership of database, hosting, mid-tier, application build, application upgrades, patches or support. All we need to do is application configuration, build interfaces, if needed and pay a subscription fee. And the whole concept of customization or extensions or writing code – Woosh (and open both your palms with a jerk mimicking the motion of a magician). It is so clean, it’s like a CIO’s dream.”
IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service – “This means that the application and application architecture is owned by us, but it is hosted by a 3rd party, so we call it Cloud. We’re talking about taking only hardware assets and hosting to cloud here (servers, storage, networking hardware type of things)
PaaS – Platform as a Service – “on the other hand, PaaS lets us get rid of owning hardware, hosting, database and application framework only. We are still responsible for developing the applications based on our requirements. There’s no presence of on premise Infrastructure, though. Most IaaS and SaaS providers are getting into this space now. IaaS providers increasing services to middle-tier, SaaS providers decreasing pre-built application services.”
RaaS – “I don’t know what RaaS is. I just wrote on the white board to keep everyone interested. Having said that, I’ll repeat what I asked earlier – What kind of Cloud model are you suggesting because it will make sense only if we consider the SaaS model?”
And then walk back to your spot like a boss…
If someone brings up that SaaS is not a reliable solution. There are data security concerns and down time concerns, then you take over completely –
“Well, there are 2 angles to data security – ”
External Threats – “This will be threat of hacking, data breach, theft at data storage facilities, lack of Disaster Recovery response. This threat will apply to all Cloud models and this acknowledging this threat means that we can deliver better protocols than a company specializing in this business. Typically, companies specializing in Cloud services will have servers physically better secured; have top-level encryption and better SLAs for Disaster Recovery. This should be a moo point of discussion.”
Internal Threats – “Data leaking to competitors due to shared infrastructure, etc. This threat can be argued upon. But, we have an option of picking a private cloud.” Pause. Look around. Count the number of people fumbling in their notebooks or scratching their heads. Start. “There are 2 types of cloud models, which used to be called public or private cloud, but now are fashionably called Multi-Tenancy or Single Tenancy respectively.”
“Multi-Tenancy means that we share the storage, database, etc. with all other customers of the system, which may expose us to the risk of our data being leaked to our competitors, but then it is for us to validate their security protocols. After all, Salesforce and Workday have been extremely successful on this model. On a personal experience, Google Mail, Facebook , etc. are all on a similar model, with data privacy and partition at the core of their businesses.”
“Single Tenancy on the other hand means that we share the Application code base with all the other customers of the product, but our data will be hosted on dedicated hardware reserved for us, or partitioned out as a separate database. It all depends, on the vendors’ business and pricing model.”
“There are some claims that there is a 3rd model called Advance Virtual Tenancy, but it’s just a marketing gimmick from a customer perspective. In reality, it works just like single tenancy.”
“Upgades/Patching is another important difference. In a Multi-Tenancy environment, we will have none to little control over patching and upgrade schedule. So, if we were a Best Buy and running our applications on multi-tenancy environment, we’d be in a hole if the vendor decides to bring the system down for 3-4 hours on Thanksgiving weekend. In Single Tenancy, we have some leverage as that can be negotiated upfront, though the vendor will still require us to allow patch application within a stipulated period, or they would push it. And unfortunately Corporate Cloud Applications do not provide Hot Patches like Facebook or Twitter yet”
“The configuration is simpler and does not require expensive IT resources during run and maintain phase. Pricing is usually per user/unit basis simplifying IT Finance’s job of calculating TCOs and allocating cost to various business units.”
Marshall, now will smirk and ask – “Sounds fancy. Would this give us return on the investment”
This is where you shrug the shoulders and say “I guess, you mean Value of Investment!!! I don’t know. I’m not supposed to be the Cloud expert here, I’m just a mechanical engineer. If someone in the IT strategy team engages with vendors and does a Cost – Benefit Analysis, I’ll learn something too… ”
By now, the meeting will be at its tail end, so look at the projected screen to make sure you bring back everyone to the original agenda of reviewing the Diwali pot-luck’s menu and ask George why he brought up “Clouds are coming down on us” in the middle of a party planning.
The author, Mr. Adi Singla, is an IT strategy leader with several years of experience in consulting and managing IT. He has an education background of MBA and BS (Engineering). Mr. Singla is a casual blogger and this article is also published Linkedin Pulse