Here's the thing, though: The battle about how to do cloud computing is not going to be fought over security. The battle is going to be about how well a given cloud environment helps users-which in this case is developers-to do their job. The most important cloud adoption criterion isn't security; rather, it's how well a given cloud environment supports the following dimensions of developer agility:
- Getting started quickly. How long it takes to get an account established so a developer can get going on a project?
- Ease of use. How easy it is to obtain development resources?
- Automation. How well does the cloud environment implement or encapsulate policy so no manual effort is required during the resource provisioning process?
- Low cost. How inexpensively are resources provided?
- Cost transparency. How comprehensible, and how directly tied to consumption, are the charges for resources?
- Richness of ecosystem. How many, and how convenient to access, are the services that make assembling and developing new applications easy?
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Any option provided to developers has to be at parity with the best public cloud offerings with respect to these dimensions. Providing a less-functional alternative is an invitation to developers to bypass the "approved" option.
I don't expect the tenor of cloud conferences to change any time soon. Security will continue to be a bugaboo, and the tone and content of the conversations will, unfortunately, continue to be state-of-the-art for 2009.
The bigger issue for those who continue to focus on this topic is whether the exercise will be rendered moot as those using the cloud ignore the discussion and get on with their jobs. The pace of cloud adoption is, if anything, accelerating, and failing to recognize that fact is, in effect, encouraging shadow IT. This is not a time for protracted deliberation. To quote the late, great football coach, George Allen, "the future is now."
Bernard Golden is the vice president of Enterprise Solutions for enStratus Networks, a cloud management software company. He is the author of three books on virtualization and cloud computing, including Virtualization for Dummies. Follow Bernard Golden on Twitter @bernardgolden.