Cloud computing shows promise
but more education needed - CIOs
UK CIOs debate merits and demerits of internet computing
Cloud computing. It s either the best thing since sliced bread or an airy-fairy, PR-in ated, imagined
phenomenon that will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history. Those and pretty well all views
held between these poles were re ected in the views of a recent dinner and round-table event held
by CIO UK in conjunction with event sponsor IBM.
What was remarkable in this group of CIOs from a wide range of private- and public-sector
organisations was just how little general agreement there was and the intensity with which they
For a few, cloud computing represented a sea change in managing IT, enabling CIOs to reduce the
burden on expensive datacentres that cost fortunes to administer, remove the requirement for big
software licences with attached annual maintenance charges, and hop o the merry-go-round of
hardware and software upgrades and patches.
For others it was seen as a useful tactical approach, allowing rms to get projects up and running
quickly by cutting through requirements for hardware and software procurement and by obviating
the need for upfront investment, especially in elds such as security scanning, email and customer
Yet others viewed the cloud as a potential way to test applications and con gurations in a sandbox
through an environment like Amazon.com s Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Windows Azure,
or to use such environments to o oad spikes in demand for processing cycles, for example at peak
operational times, or to run analytics processes. Storage was also cited as an attraction of cloud
However, although the term has been around for some time now, there is still doubt and scepticism
about what it oers. Some delegates mocked it as a reinvention of application service providers,
software as a service or timesharing and had concerns over scalability, availability, security and
governance, particularly if some data was stored or processed in other jurisdictions.
Defenders of the cloud pointed to issues of scalability, availability and security in the client/server
world and noted that many cloud service providers now oer approaches that guarantee to keep
data in stated jurisdictions.
What the evening of lively debate made clear was that although much-hyped cloud computing
remains at an in ection point and has some way to travel before it crosses the chasm and enjoys