Poll results
A look at cloud computing from a different angle

A recent DailyTech poll of IT professionals indicates that more than a third have already implemented virtualization technology broadly in their organizations, but their attitudes toward cloud computing ranged from uncertainty to downright skepticism.

Among the 2,878 DailyTech readers who took part in the poll, 36 percent indicated that they “already have virtualization technology in place,” compared to only 12 percent that said they had no plans to virtualize. However, this 3-to-1 ration in favor of virtualization did not extend to cloud computing an advanced form of virtualization in which the physical location of data and computing resources typically resides outside the corporate campus, often with a third-part service provider at a remote location.

“We've virtualized a large percentage of our applications in the name of efficiency,” according to a comment posted by DailyTech reader nafhan, who works in the financial services field. However, “Having that information out `in the cloud’ would at best provide an interesting set of regulatory and compliance issues to deal with. It would be a lot more trouble than it's worth.”

In fact, only 8 percent of respondents indicated immediate plans to implement cloud technology. In contrast, 29 percent said cloud computing isn’t “quite ready for primetime.”

“Cloud won't be ready for primetime for at least another 3 to 5 years,” wrote DailyTech reader Spivonious. “Virtualization is here now. We've moved all but our large servers onto a VMWare server. We are currently in the first phase of pushing out thin clients that will connect to a virtual desktop.”

Security and performance were the top objections to cloud computing, according to DailyTech poll respondents.

“Cloud computing is the vaporware of the quarter...seems like they can't figure out anything better to do to use those idle cycles on multi-core CPUs,” reader EricMartello wrote. “Does any self-respecting business really want to entrust proprietary assets to a 3rd party who may not even be on the same continent? “

Martello expressed no such qualms about utilizing virtual machine technology in the enterprise. “Virtualization, on the other hand, is a great idea because it is making efficient use of idling CPUs,” he wrote. “Hey, no time like the present to cut some costs. Look at it this way, the money you save your company with a solid virtual machine setup may mean your semi-useless ass doesn't get laid off for another few months. :D “

At least one reader was prepared to defend cloud computing from a security standpoint. In fact, placing sensitive data assets in the cloud could prevent some of the most frequent and catastrophic security breaches that occur in organizations with a large and mobile workforce, according to a post from MrPoletski.

“Because your data is in a cloud, which resides on a top secure server at your company, you don't have to worry about the office dork leaving his laptop in the pub or something -- because whoever gets it won't be able to do anything or steal any data because they need to log into the cloud first. The actual unit doesn't contain anything useful at all,” Poletski wrote. “No more `so and so loses 15 million customers’ info' or anything like that, because the data is not physically there to lose. The best form of data security is to not have the data to loose in the first place!”

Poletski’s post drew criticism from fellow reader SunAngel. “With cloud, you’re just begging for attention to your network. Yes, they don't necessarily have to be VPN connections, but the more entry points to your network, the more opportunities for a catastrophe to happen. Ask any IT manager that’s been hit, he'll tell cloud blows chunks.”

Along with security concerns, several readers expressed fears that cloud computing places an undue strain on wide-area network (WAN) connections, leading to degraded application performance.

“Bandwidth is greater on the LAN that it is from any Cloud. We serve as many apps as possible from local disk, servers, and the cloud if necessary -- and in that order,” wrote 9nails. “Within our LAN campus we have Gigabit links, but our WAN link connections (shared with the Internet connection) are a minuscule fraction of that. We try to reduce the amount of data that needs to travel over these links as much as possible. And that is especially true since business use alone does a fairly good job in consuming a lot of bandwidth.“

“As much as I like tech, I don't see how many companies can justify things like thin clients and cloud computing,” reader DOOA wrote. “We tried both these technologies. Losing 10 percent speed in Word, Excel and our database was supposedly made up with reduced hardware costs. Fortunately our leaders take a more intelligent view and see that end user productivity is the whole reason we have an IT department.”

Placing resources in the cloud is not only cause of reduced application performance, noted at least one reader, claiming that virtualization itself is to blame in some cases.

“Virtualization is not the free lunch it's made out to be,” according to reader Motoman. “A major software vendor I worked for for many years sold lots of different products. Most of these we certified and supported on VMWare. A couple of them, we did not...the reason being that running them in a VM environment sucked anywhere from 25% to 90% of their throughput away...a function of their processing profile (these apps in particular used massive disk I/O, RAM I/O, and CPU utilization all at the same time...which seemed to be instant death in a VM environment).

“Customers would ask, `When are you going to certify these products on VM?’ To which we'd have to explain that we really couldn't because of the problem noted above. Indignant IT guys would just get pissy at that point and either dismiss us, or tell us we didn't know what we were doing, or whatever. Then they'd go and try to implement on VM, and guess what? They got 10 or 20 percent of the throughput they expected,” Motoman wrote in his post.

Few readers seemed to share Motoman’s sentiments with regard to virtualization, citing instead positive experiences and significant cost savings.

“I'm not sure about cloud computing, but the technology for virtualization is definitely ready for prime time,” wrote reader Robear. “It's merely a matter of adoption and IT management policies at this point. There are simply too many advantages to virtualization that you cannot ignore; mainly the TCO. Every executive can speak in $$$, IT or not.

“I can tell you we're looking into desktop virtualization for our software engineers,” he added. “Virtualization is GREAT for setting up integration environments and the likes.”

Reader Doby concurred. “End of the day, taking into account most consideration from manageability, utilization, costs; virtualization is almost always the way to go, though there are some situations that it might not make sense for, they are very few.“



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