New business models drive cloud uptake

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The possibilities for new business models remain one of the most important drivers of cloud uptake.

So said Kenny Inggs, CTO and co-founder of 22seven, speaking during ITWeb's Cloud Computing Summit yesterday. "This is the bit that got me, personally, over the initial hurdle of going into the cloud: it enables ideas and thinking of new businesses that we couldn't build before.

"In the cloud, you can make everything you do an operational expense, a marginal expense. What that means is that you can structure your model around that to start recuperating the expenses at the right time," he added.

Economies of scale are another important driver, he noted. Cloud's operational expense model, along with scalability and low costs, opens up options previously unavailable to those on tight budgets. "We can get access to computing power at a scale that we just haven't dreamt of before. We can run solutions in the cloud that are scaleable and robust, for about the same cost as our electricity."

While the benefits of scalability are usually spoken about in terms of being able to scale up when necessary, the ability to scale down is important too, observed Inggs. "We often talk about scale as having another hundred servers ready to go, but it's almost as nice to be able to scale down; to say, 'hey, I don't really need this any more', and to optimise. For example, over the weekend, when there's very little traffic, bump it down to two servers. During the week, bump it up to 30 again, and only pay for what you need."

Based on these drivers, 22seven made the decision to build a cloud-based platform, but it was, noted Inggs, less simple than it'd hoped. "We had less control than we'd hoped for, and it was frustrating that if things were going slowly, we couldn't just swap in drives or cables."

While the benefits of cloud are multi-fold, he said, it's important to remember that the cloud both gives and removes control in different areas. "It was hard to wrap my head around what control we gave up to get the benefits of the cloud.

"The cloud isn't a silver bullet," emphasised Inggs. "If you make stupid decisions, you can burn yourself as badly as anywhere else."

Despite its shortcomings, the cloud is becoming less of a trend, and more just the way things are done, he concluded. "Back in the mainframe days, we might have had conferences about servers, but now, they're just the way we think about things. I think cloud is heading there very rapidly, and for some people, might be there. It's not the silver bullet - it's just the way we think about things."

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