In his usual inimitable fashion our columnist and board member Dennis Cronin (see p. 16) boiled down the meaning of the cloud for data center professionals to three laws:
  • Moore’s Law will continue uninterrupted.
  • Data centers will have lives of about 10 years.
  • The mission critical industry will continue to need more professionals who know how to provide high availability, reliability, resiliency, modular ability, portability, scalability, and much more.
Similarly Mike Manos, now of Digital Realty Trust and another member of the Mission Critical board, wrote in his blog about the durability of enterprise data centers, “The need for the corporate data centers is not going away. They may change in size, shape, efficiency, and the like, but there is a need to continue to maintain a home for those company jewels and to serve internal business communities. The value of any company is the information and intellectual property developed, maintained, and driven by their employees.

“Mike also examined the complexity of moving to a public or other cloud and the costs of migrating enterprise software to the cloud, “We are at least a decade or more away before those could be migrated to a distributed cloud-based infrastructure.”

Other difficulties still block widespread adoption of the cloud. For instance, what will the pricing models look like? How will enterprises limit use of cloud services to legitimate business functions? What will SLAs look like? And, as Mike questions, how readily will enterprises be able to move from one cloud provider to another for price or service reasons? Even companies that are ideal candidates to move to the cloud will face these and other issues. It is also true, as Cronin writes in this issue, that enterprises have been dealing with some version of these problems since the origin of distributed computing.

Some describe cloud computing as a source of innovation. In fact, Manos goes so far as to discuss both enterprise and cloud facilities as areas of innovation in his blog post and to suggest that he expects a hybrid model.

In this Mike errs, I believe. The enterprise center and the cloud are both the result of innovation, not areas of innovation. These two distinct models and any hybrids will exist only so long as they meet the larger need for cost-effective, reliable, energy-efficient computing. Once these models fail to meet these needs, they will be innovated out of existence.

In the end, then, the cloud may never come to be, or the cloud may drive enterprise data centers to extinction. Either way, we will be left with Dennis Cronin’s three laws.