There's no question that cloud computing is changing the channel game and giving solution providers a lot to chew on, but at COMDEXvirtual a panel of cloud computing insiders looked beyond the hype to discuss how VARs can best take advantage of the changing technological landscape.
Judith Hurwitz, CEO and president of Hurwitz & Associates, a consulting, research and analyst firm in Needham, Mass., called cloud computing an "important, but confusing phenomenon" and cautioned solution providers and end customers to not dive headlong into the cloud right away, but instead to ease into the transition off of on-premise systems.
Hurwitz spoke during a cloud computing session at COMDEXvirtual, the online conference hosted by CRN parent company Everything Channel. The show takes place November 16 - 17, and sessions are available on-demand until May 17, 2011.
"It's a very interesting time because whenever we have one of these massive technology transitions some people sort of assume that everything will be cloud or not," she said, adding that the move to the cloud starts with a roadmap and a strategy, not a leap of faith. "What we're finding from a best practice standpoint is people have to be comfortable first. They have to try things. A lot of customers are beginning, for example, with doing testing or development in the cloud. It's not as risky as putting everything in the cloud, but it gives them a feeling for it."
Phil Wainewright, vice president of Procullux Ventures, a London Web services and consulting firm, disagreed.
"Sometimes leaping feet first into the cloud is the best approach," Wainewright said, noting that aging, cumbersome and expensive on-premise gear could be the impetus for moving to the cloud in one fell swoop, which could result in a safer, more reliable and more secure IT environment. Sometimes, he said, a radical approach is needed.
But once solution providers determine whether their clients are going to dive right in or take baby steps into the cloud, the question becomes whether those customers require a private or public cloud infrastructure.
Wainewright said he's skeptical of private clouds, noting that that takes away some of the main drivers for cloud computing: connectivity, community and innovation.
"If you take the computing out of the cloud, you can't call it cloud computing," he said.
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