March 03, 2011, 10:39 AM — Today at CeBIT, representatives of some of the biggest names in IT came together for a discussion of cloud computing, which organisers have suggested could be the overriding theme of this year's show.
But, while the panel were all evidently in the 'pro' corner, each to some extent pushing the agenda that the cloud is the future, this listener came away with the feeling that it's still got some way to go.
The Cloud Computing Summit saw executives from IBM, Intel, Google, VMWare and Fujitsu mull over the challenges and opportunities presented by the cloud. But while Google's Sebastian Marotte in particular was dramatically positive ("Let me give you some advice," he said. "Anything you can put on the cloud, just put it there.") barely a moment went past without someone raising a caveat, a concern or a risk.
The overall impression seemed to be, "Cloud computing will definitely happen, but let's not get carried away."
The Cloud Computing Summit at this year's CeBIT
VMWare's Paul Strong made an opening address in which he claimed that cloud computing could be a revolutionary change by building on an evolution in technology. But IBM's Dirk Wittkopp responded more cautiously: "It can be a revolution, but you don't have to throw away what you have," he said.
Andre Kiehne, vice-president of services at Fujitsu, voiced a similar concept. "It's about the right combination of existing infrastructure and new cloud services," he said. "But there is life below the cloud. Cloud computing is still in the minority, and there's still a good opportunity for traditional software."
More than one of the panel executives felt that a 'hybrid model' was the right approach to cloud computing for the moment.
So what issues are holding back total adoption of the cloud computing model?
One is security; and another is reliability. Kiehne suggested that the best solution in some cases might be a 'private cloud', precisely because of the perceived problems in these two areas. Wittkopp put forward a 'shared private cloud', in which a cloud would be made available to a number of companies with mutual trust.