Quick note having just read Dion Hincliffe’s article on Google App Engine and Amazon Web Services (their respective cloud computing infrastructures). These platforms are early and very basic instances of the ‘service delivery platforms’ I’ve talked about for the past few years (for an example see a presentation I gave at the MS SOA & BPM conference last year). As I discussed during this talk, I use the term ‘service delivery platform’ in place of ‘platform as a service’ or ‘cloud computing’ since in order to really support viable and fully rounded service delivery you need to provide far more than a ‘platform’ or ‘infrastructure’ – a topic I’m going to return to now that this area has been popularised by Google and I won’t seem like (such) a lunatic, lol. More broadly, however, I’ve discussed a number of times why I feel that economics and technology commoditisation will drive people down this route eventually and I’m really excited now to see a number of competitors emerging in this space (with Amazon, Google and Salesforce now competing with a number of smaller startups (with more to follow)). I know I’ve said this before but people are really going to have to start deciding what business they are in – if you work in an end user organisation then you need to recognise that and start treating IT like a utility rather than a differentiator; if you’re an IT service company, however, you’d better work out whether you want to be focused on relationship brokering and consulting, utility computing platform provision or SaaS/BPU service offers, since the economics of each are very different (you may in fact want to play in all three but if so you’d best disaggregate your company and run them autonomously under your umbrella brand – or you’ll make a complete hash of them all).
One of the interesting things for me is whether a middle-ground model will emerge that enables enterprises to take advantage of the industrialisation and economies of scale available to service delivery platform vendors whilst also enabling the deployment of ‘edge’ infrastructures to customer specific environments. In this context we may see locally deployed ‘chunks’ of the central service created for those organisations that are large enough or who have specific privacy or trust issues (still coordinated with and managed from the centre, however). Whether such a model has a long term future is an interesting (but as yet undecided) question to my mind but in the short to medium term those SDP vendors who were able to deliver such a transitional solution would provide a compelling migration path to enterprises who are nervous about the implications of a wholesale shift to the cloud.