Cloud Delivery Model is about Ops, not Apps

#cloud #byod #mobile #devops If there’s a difference between cloud and traditional app delivery from the end-user perspective, you’re doing it wrong.

There seems to be a growing disconnect between reality and hype, fueled by the rainbow and unicorn dressing that’s been applied to cloud computing . The latest craze is to make reference to a “cloud delivery model” and almost always attached to BYOD and cloud computing.

Generally such references take the form of:

      “Thanks to the cloud delivery model, any device can access applications delivered from the cloud.”

Here’s a good example of this phenomenon:

"Another key enabling factor for enterprise mobility is the cloud based delivery model for applications. With applications stored and delivered from the cloud, the endpoint device is largely irrelevant, with access allowed through smartphones, tablet devices or laptops.

-- Enterprise Mobility ranks highly for IT investment, 25% of businesses rate mobility as a priority in 2012, finds Frost & Sullivan


There is no discernable difference from the point of the end-user between “cloud” and “traditional” data center application delivery. If there is, you’re doing it wrong.

The transformation associated with cloud computing is internal; it’s inside IT and the business, it’s inside organizations, it’s inside operations.

It is not on the outside, where the end-user might notice. Again, if it is, you’re doing it wrong.

There is nothing inherently magical about cloud or its delivery model (which is, after all, the same as the delivery model in traditional data centers) that would better enable it to provide access to mobile devices. Nothing. Nothing at all but organizational policy that prevents certain devices from being on the network. That’s not innate to the model, it’s a decision made by the business or IT to disallow them. It’s a policy.

What’s being delivered with cloud computing – off-premise, on-premise, across-premise – is an operational model. It delivers ops, not apps. Apps are delivered by application delivery networks or servers, not operational models.

Cloud delivers operational resources – servers, storage, network, security – in a service-oriented fashion. Cloud delivers efficiency through scalable, repeatable application deployment processes. Cloud delivers a lower price per resource unit through the sharing of commoditized systems.

It is not the purpose or intent of cloud computing to deliver unfettered access to applications to end-users. But this concomitant access is exactly what seems to be hailed as the greatest thing since TCP/IP took IPX/SPX out back in the school yard and kicked its legacy derriere back into the 20th century. Because the only difference between a data center serving applications to mobile devices and a cloud computing environment serving applications to mobile devices is access control. In the enterprise data center there is bound to be policies governing access to resources that may or may not restrict users from getting at specific data or files inside the data center when they are outside the data center and/or on a mobile device. In the enterprise there is likely to be tighter control over access to sensitive corporate information.

Moving to a cloud computing model inside or outside the data center, a la private cloud, does not change the business and operational requirements to constrain access based on location, user, or end-user device. Yet that seems to be the implied “benefit” here of a so-called “cloud delivery model” in which the end-point is largely irrelevant (that’s another trap that operations needs to be aware of and put down with extreme operational prejudice. The end-point matters – not just from a security perspective but from a performance and delivery governance perspective. But more on that some other day).

Sometimes the argument about cloud delivery models enabling agnostic mobile device access seems to center around applications stored in and delivered from “the cloud”.

And web applications in the past weren’t? They aren’t now? They won’t be next month? From the perspective of the end-user – nothing has changed, except, perhaps, the ease with which they can find, install, and run applications on their mobile devices. And that’s not because of “cloud”, that’s because of APIs and some darn smart developers and architects. Cloud was completely inessential to the rapid adoption and success rates of mobile devices; that’s applications and ease of use.

Cloud changes how applications are deployed, how they are provisioned, how their lifecycle in production is managed. It doesn’t change how they are delivered from an end-user perspective.

Published May 31, 2012
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