Cloud computing at Orange Business Live

12:05 we’re getting started here.  This session is designed to introduce us all to all the questions and solutions for cloud computing.

The session chair used the analogy or utilities for cloud computing.  Rather than having to have the infrastructure of wells, we have water on tap.  Having the resources you need for when you need them and paying only when you use them is central to the value proposition of cloud computing.

In the on-demand model, the four options are outsourcing (high cost), premises based (beholden unto rental service provider), collocation (only viable for large business), and cloud computing.  With cloud you have no capacity planning issues, as well as the cost savings and updated software you need.

The #1 question of cloud is about security: of data, the centre, during transfer, connection security.  The #2 question relating to cloud is regarding complexity.  The #3 questions is about performance of the network.  Of course quality of service is also a key question.  Other questions from the floor ask about ownership of data or at least repurposing of the data.

The session chair notes that the levels of different clouds impact on the answers or ‘solutions’ to these questions.  Internal or externally accessible cloud services, internal or hosted services, public, virtual public or private hosted services options need to be established.

In order, you need to assess:
– which cloud infrastructure is relevant for your business tasks
– what security policies and architecture you need
– what business model and service level agreement is appropriate for generating revenue and profit for the business.

Clearly, where data ownership issues are being addressed, the more open and flexible the collaborative service, the more likely it is that intellectul property systems arise.  But if, as part of a cloud computing strategy, there is a level of Security and Unified Communication as a Service, it’s possible to set potential ‘ownership’ and adaptability of data (as well as insights from data) through models of permissions and real time versus asynchronous knowledge production.

The Orange marketing manager is now up, speaking about the investments of Orange in the network infrastructure itself.  Orange is planning on spending €700,000 on networks in 2010.  In France, a green data centre has been built to contain 31,000 servers, accommodating over 10,000 virtual servers.

The plan ahead is in terms of real-time apps as a service, collaboration as a service, security as a service, IT as a service, and finally cloud-ready networks.  Ultimately, absolute virtualisation is not either practical or desirable for all business.  Thus hybrid models of flexible computing solution management.

Now in this session, a demo is given on a cloud computing management, including creation of a new virtual machine and the kind of services available to customers.  While this is partly a sales pitch, it’s also clear that the service should be low cost as the effort required to operatinalise is very low.  Clearly, substantial technical knowledge of physical networks would be needed in order to make the right decisions about the relevant customisations to systems as well as VLAN settings.  I’ve seen similar performance and server management opportunities in simpler forms through host manager services such as Rackspace.  But for organisations that are looking in to cloud computing I can see that this demo would be useful.

Not sure it answers all the more subjective questions, but it would be useful to set up some model SLAs and behavioural guides for implementation of these service – even a wiki of SLAs and case studies of disputes in order to overcome some of these issues.

A useful and interesting session and good video of user experience presented, but I think what has been demonstrated by this session is that IT infrastructure and user portals are not sufficient to address the more subtle issues arising from Cloud Computing.

For Orange Business Live attendees and interested people, I strongly recommend reading Charlie Leadbeater’s Cloud Culture, and working together to generate some case studies and visual decision maps to deal with key questions on cloud computing.

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