Virtual cloud computing is not a panacea

Get our expert's thoughts on why the type of cloud you choose and its location are important.

Editor's Note: This is part two of Mike Laverick's "Stupid IT" series. Take a minute and read part one on "How to simplify IT processes and stop being stupid"

Part One: How to simplify IT processes and stop being stupid
Part Two: Virtual cloud computing is not a panacea 

 The newly minted virtual cloud computing providers all proclaim the same thing -- come to us and we will be cheaper, with even higher high availability. The rub is there is no cast-iron way of confirming these claims are true. Additionally, if a cloud computing provider does fail, despite the use of failed service-level agreement penalties, it is still the business that has to live with the outage, and blaming it on a third party isn't much help to the disgruntled customer.

IT sometimes appears to stand aloof from the business like a misunderstood teenager, one who doesn't comprehend why the business can't understand this newfangled technology.


Mike Laverick, Contributor,

In short, you could move your "stupid IT" away from your internal/private cloud to an even stupider external/public cloud provider. At least with the "stupid IT" model, there is some semblance of accountability, which doesn't involve being in automated dialing system:


• Press 1 for Sales
• Press 2 for Accounts
• Press 3 if your cloud is broken

"Welcome to option 3, you have 100 options…(none of them are particularly good):
• Option 1…"

My rather silly point is if we sincerely believe there are no panaceas -- virtualisation is not a panacea -- then in short neither is the virtual cloud. There's quite a lot hogwash circulating the Internet that one definition of the cloud is "I don't care." Well, I'm sorry, I do care. I care very much.

I'm reminded that I've occasionally said to my students, "I don't care on which ESX hosts my virtual machine runs." In all honesty, I still believe that to be the case. But it is a whole other matter to say I don't care which data centre or geographical location my VMs run. The reason I don't care where my VM runs on an ESX host is I have the confidence that I built them right, and the redundancy is place to protect them from outage.

Who takes the blame for the wrong cloud?
How do I verify that with my fluffy cloud computing service provider miles away from my location? And say there are a thousand vCloud Express providers out there -- that's great for competition, but how do decide which is the best cloud for me? And if I pick the wrong cloud, who takes the rap for that decision?

If I pick the wrong cloud, who takes the rap for that decision?


Mike Laverick, Contributor,

What to do? Well, rather than trying to "simplify IT," as VMware proudly states, we need to put more effort into not being stupid. There are plenty of examples of stupid IT, and I believe we can learn more from when we go wrong than when we go right. If I see one more PowerPoint slide that tells me to "engage with the key stakeholders," I will give a little scream in an apoplexy of exasperated tedium. I think we can learn more about not being stupid by examining where we go wrong, and asking ourselves why that this state of affairs has been allowed to develop in the first place, and how we can stop it happening.

Perhaps you think IT is pretty smart. I'm sorry to tell you that isn't in the main perception of IT to most businesses and, more importantly, the end-users we are supposed to serve.

Teenager IT
IT sometimes appears to stand aloof from the business like a misunderstood teenager, one who doesn't comprehend why the business (the parents) can't understand this newfangled technology. It's time for IT to take their posters down from the wall and leave the bedroom. In future articles, I will be developing this theme of "stupid IT." If you would like to submit an anonymous story about stupid IT, then please do so by commenting on the Stupid "Virtualized" IT page.

As for myself, I will begin with an analysis of "stupid IT" that has been financed by central government. There are sadly plenty of examples. From that analysis, I will try to draw out the key themes that make up stupid IT, so we can all avoid it. That's no cheap dig or shot at the public sector, by the way. It's just that public sector IT projects are under such scrutiny that their stupid IT antics come to light in the form of parliamentary sub-committees and opposition party point scoring.

I suspect the private sector is probably equally as bad; it's just that their stupid IT doesn't get the same limelight at as misspent taxpayers' money. My inspiration is the recent BBC4 File-on-Four expose called "Computing Calamities," first broadcast on March 2 of this year, of some recent IT projects that have failed to deliver.

Until then, keep your eggs warm and distribute them amongst your highly-available and cluster-aware baskets.


Mike Laverick

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Laverick is a professional instructor with 15 years experience in technologies such as Novell, Windows and Citrix, and he has been involved with the VMware community since 2003. Laverick is a VMware forum moderator and member of the London VMware User Group Steering Committee. In addition to teaching, Laverick is the owner and author of the virtualisation website and blog RTFM Education, where he publishes free guides and utilities aimed at VMware ESX/VirtualCenter users. In 2009, Laverick received the VMware vExpert award and helped found the Irish and Scottish user groups. Laverick has had books published on VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, VMware vSphere4 and VMware Site Recovery Manager.

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