T-SQL Tuesday #48 – Cloud Atlas

Whenever I hear about the “cloud” and the already well-coined term “cloud computing”, I always go back into my years at the university. The reason behind this lays in the fact that the first IT-related presentation I have ever given was exactly on the topic of Cloud computing and why it’s going to matter! My audience was quite an interesting one – the whole IT department and if my memory is not lying to me, I delivered this presentation way, way back – before more than 5 years. So if I have to answer to the question whether or not cloud computing is something that we need to care of and start considering then you probably feel what my answer will be, right? However, let me dive deeper into the subject as it’s one of my favourite ones and explain to you why, in my opinion, cloud computing mattered, matters and will matter! 

Let’s start this way – we’re living in a very interesting time (surprised? Don’t think so, but let me know if you have different opinion)! Nowadays, everything changes fast and I mean really, really fast! Now, this leads to 2 things (one good and one not that good) in my opinion:

  1. The technologies we use and we are able to work with are constantly getting better and thus delivering better experience both for us as consumers and for the businesses we work for. That’s a goody and I really like it!
  2. All those changes that we are constantly faced with though present a danger for many of us – the IT people (actually for all others too, but in a different way) – and that’s because people are not willing to change and to adapt to new stuff. It’s just hard, takes effort, time, etc. However, we (you, me, our companies) will just have to, because otherwise we will easily go and be left unemployed (you think that’s not possible? Let me know if so – I can tell you some very interesting stories that are actually “pointing” to the opposite) or at least miss an amazing opportunity.

Both of those above have a very nice and lovely :) relation with “cloud computing”. However, in order for one to be able to really understand them, I firmly believe we have to have a bit, just a bit of business knowledge and exactly the same way of thinking. Let me tell you what I mean – the first one is related to what the “cloud” actually offers to it’s end users/businesses and the second one to what the cloud providers are actually “doing” to the market by providing these so called “cloud services”.

For me the word “cloud” is a synonym for “service”. All cloud offerings are actually offering to you or your business a service – be that software/platform/infrastructure. However, the most important part here is what are the characteristics of all these offerings. Let me mention just some of them:

  • High availability – the service you use is constantly available (or at least the cloud providers promise it is)
  • No need to maintain and administer – those activities are handled by the cloud provider
  • Pay as much as you use – no need to explain here – you pay for the service as much as you have used it (in the same way as you use electricity for example)
  • Flexible – you can turn the service on/off whenever you want or you can purchase a new one whenever you want and it will be available for you almost instantly (if not instantly)
  • Scalable – you do not have to worry about whether or not your service will be able to handle 2x, 10x, 20x times of users, because it automatically grows as the users become more and vice versa – automatically shrinks when there is no more need for that “horse power” behind the scenes.

Take a closer look at those 5 above again (and for all you IT nerds and geeks, who as me know that these are not as easy to be accomplished as it sounds – stay calm for a sec :) ) and turn on your business way of thinking for a moment. Ask yourself – If I had a business that I personally operate, wouldn’t it be great if I can offer to my customers a service that is:

  • constantly available for them to use (highly available and scalable)
  • administered and maintained by people outside my organization (so no need to hire people for this)
  • cheaper for me to offer to my end user?

I don’t know for you, but if this was my business, I will definitely start considering the “cloud”! And don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that cloud is for everyone – noup, it’s not suitable for all scenarios out there, it just isn’t (for example I cannot think of how one of our customers, which is a bank organisation operating in whole Europe, will “give” all of it’s data to someone, somewhere), but it can and actually is the best choice for many, many applications.

There is another side of the equation though – all those cloud offerings coming from the various players (most of the time these are the biggest companies on the market as the others cannot afford the resources needed) are shaking the IT business in a very, very interesting way. Think of it for a moment – at the moment you “subscribe” for a cloud provider’s offer for SaaS (Software as a Service) for example, you eliminate the need for a lot of people – the ones that actually should develop it and the ones that should maintain and administer the app through it’s lifecycle. That, my friends, is not good for a lot of companies and many people have already been left unemployed because of this (and I hope you believe this because this is as real and true as it is that I am writing this post while waiting for my flight to Sofia). Remember – not all companies can reemploy and give other tasks to it’s employees. At the end of the day when you tell the business it will have the same (and possibly) even better service to offer to it’s customers at a lower cost – you know what the Cxx will tell: “Yes, we want that!”. This situation is totally the same as the one with all the automation that is going on around the whole world – you think that businesses will not automate all tasks that they can and leave the people that have done them till now unemployed? You think that they won’t do it when it will be far cheaper for them this way (not paying salaries, trainings, etc.), it will eliminate the chances for human errors and it will deliver (at the end) a better experience for the end user? Think again (or go to Dubai or Milan where they even have driverless trains)!

To sum it up, my personal opinion is that cloud computing and what it offers represents one of the biggest shifts in how IT is delivered and consumed. If you or your company do not want to participate in that shift – feel free to leave, but do not blame the market for changing! It will continue to do so and will probably never stop (at least this is what I think) and if that’s true, the question that we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we are also willing to constantly change and adapt. So yeah, I think cloud computing is important…

Thank you, Jorge, for hosting this TSQLTuesday! I enjoyed writing this blog post a lot (and I wrote it even on my trip to Italy)!

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