Style over substance has caused "Cloud confusion": Avnet

Technology distributor shares its insight into the Cloud after entering the market with its own offering

Is the hype for the Cloud justified?

If you ask Avnet A/NZ services general manager, Adam Chicktong, it is both a 'yes'' and 'no'.

“I say 'yes' because the technology has advanced enough to enable this particular model of computing to be leveraged and consumerised in a way that was impossible before,” he said.

The benefits of the Cloud typically include reduced costs, scalability, moving Capex to Opex, redundancy, and on-demand compute power as some of the advantages.

“It has enabled business’ to develop and grow into areas they would not have been able to 15 years ago,” Chicktong said.

At the same time, Chicktong said 'no' because it is “just a continued evolution of a centralised computing model. “

“You could easily argue that it is just a continuation of utility or grid computing through to ASPs [Application Service Providers] to Software-as-a-Service and hosting, through to Cloud,” he said.

“The difficult thing today is that ‘Cloud’ has become all things to all people and the definition has somewhat been lost along the way.”

Different strokes

Avnet would know all about the benefits and challenges of the Cloud, having recently unveiled its new services division, Avnet Cloud Services, to provide hosted private Cloud solutions in the channel.

Despite the public’s enthusiasm for Cloud technology overall, Chicktong admits that some customers have misgivings around it.

One that he highlights is that people assume, for better or worse, that all Cloud services are the same.

“In reality there are vast differences and the right one needs to be selected to suit their own particular requirements,” he said.

For one thing, there are different deployment options such as private, public, hybrid and community.

“There are also different service models such Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service,” Chicktong said.

As such, he sees it being “vitally important” to know what service you may be signing up for.

Questions such as whether the client is aware their data could be stored offshore and is data sovereignty as issue to them need to or the infrastructure and data center meet their regulatory and compliance needs.

“The uptime guarantee of the service needs to be determined, as well as whether they need 24x7 live person support or are they happy getting their support from a forum,” Chicktong said.

Confusing concept

As to why these misconceptions around the Cloud exist, Chicktong saidt the term Cloud has been “over-marketed” and is used to push anything from a simple server, to licensing models through to anything seemingly connected to the internet.

“I once read somewhere that you need to sort out what is Cloud and what is vapour, which was a great way of saying that behind the hype from a lot of ‘Cloud companies’ there is often very little substance,” he said.

The cloud was meant to simplify things, but Chicktong admits that for many people it has actually done the complete opposite.

“Cloud now seems to have a thousand different meanings, although NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] seems to have a pretty accurate one,” he said.

“My marketing team now tells me that it is often used as a ‘term to convey a concept to help drive an idea,’ whatever that means.”

Question time

It is no surprise that for some this has caused a huge amount of confusion as to what the Cloud actually is and what people are getting for their money.

When dealing with these types of concerns from clients, Chicktong recommends asking the right questions that will determine what Cloud solution is right for their particular requirements.

“Have a thorough understanding of what Cloud computing is and the difference between the models out there,” he said.

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