Technical accumen beats a Crystal Ball in Cloud

Last week while I was on vacation, before I got waylaid in preparing for todays Cloud Computing World Forum in London and next weeks Open.CH Cloud event in Switzerland I promised my snapshot on Gartner's release a fortnight ago now on EMEA Cloud activity being a pale comparison of the US's activity.You can read it here, in fact reading it before digesting this article might be a great start.

So before we start let's be very clear, I'm not remotely out to bash Gartner, they have a well earnt position in the pantheon of analysts and are a valued member of the technical analyst community working hard to help a lot of customers across verticals globally make comprehensive strategies. The report itself lists four specific inhibitors for adjudging that Cloud growth in the EU region as a whole will fall behind the North American marketplace.

Inhibitor 1. Diverse (and Changing) Data Privacy Regulations

Gartner make a good job of outlining the concerns many companies have over data regulation and privacy.They do so without actually going into any concise clarified detail but do at least admit that a lot of the privacy issues are communicated and understood badly by organisations, which is a positive. Certainly the Cloud community as a whole has a duty of care to ensure that we make it easier for companies and institutions to understand that issues such as ENISA and EU guidelines at the provider level and your enshrined responsibilities as a data processor are actually quite simple to quantify. That issues such as the Patriot Act and Safe Harbor that apparently scare many companies off hosting in North America are not actually as realistic as painted. It's an unwritten rule that even in the EU the liason between intelligence services is acknowledged as making local EU sovereign data privacy controls and the Patriot Act immaterial therefore nullifying the concerns in the first instance. If you read the authoritative report by Hogan Lovells on behalf of the OpenForum Academy published last month you'd understand even more that it should be the Cloud community and providers working harder to communicate this as a non risk to customers regardless of geographical location, that actually if you architecture your public key encryption properly it actually disappears as a risk.

Inhibitor 2. Complex B2B Multienterprise Integration and Processes

In the EU we have a better understanding than most other global territories around working across boundaries. It's a fact many of the boundaries between organisations in multiple EU territories where data transmission storage and processing occur daily have evolved their own processes based around international standards such as COBIT, ITIL, ISO, BASEL as mandatory controls in business nullifying actual risks to growth. So this inhibitor seems to be badly defined and badly understood as a doorstop to Cloud. EU businesses as a whole adopting Cloud are better positioned than many organisations outside Europe given that we have had corporate governance in place that dwarfs SOX, SAS 70 and less capable non EU derived process controls.

Inhibitor 3. The Slowness and Undesired Effects of Some EU Policies

Gartner do a good job of outlining where they think sovereign mandated process and policy can potentially act as a roadblock to inertia in Cloud. In four years of Cloud specific activity up to and including EU government ENISA guided Cloud architecture I'm yet to identify one actual identifiable deployment slowed down by this "inhibitor". Gartner then give an example of the European Multi Stakeholder Forums e-invoicing guidelines published in March which are at best a steering piece designed to help and assist organisations rather than slow them down, although it has taken almost five years to get to it's findings it's still comforting to know that it exists.

Inhibitor 4. The Investment Hold Caused by the Euro Crisis

I can't argue with this point, there is a critical crisis of confidence in the euro and the financial markets, this is a technical blog not a financial one. You'd have to have had your head in the sand to have not noticed the major slowdown in IT spend across all areas of technology not just Cloud. It's an added benefit to the marketplace that Red Hat is positioned to actually allow customers in that position to actually achieve a lot more with a huge amount less and the Open nature of Red Hat cloud technologies and our continued work with emerging technologies to prosper growth during a time of economic and financial instability. In fact Red Hat is growing continually even during a downturn as our customers enjoy so much more capability based on our subscription and Cloud access model for their workloads. This then increases when they see how CloudForms and OpenShift start reducing workload costs and reduce complex associated ownership and process costs.

I'm very surprised that nobody from Gartner read the synopsis of the Cloud Security Alliance's 2011 study into EU Cloud growth and factors which gave more clarified detail and credible guidance to the very readers that digest Gartner articles as verbatim. I've uploaded my copy of their slides here as it returns a more authoritative piece to you towards doing your own clarified research.

So my message here is one of balance. Read the Gartner article, it's a balanced and authoritative viewpoint from a global leader. Once you're done then go read the links below:

PC World Report on Data Concerns over Patriot Act
Business Software Alliance report on Cloud in Europe
(downloadable pdf)
Jipitec EU Cloud Computing Synopsis

My last words on this article from Gartner is that they missed a trick by forgetting that the same people who read their reports are the same architects and technically capable thought leaders who use open architectures and enjoy more competitive and open economies of scale from using Open Cloud.

If you use an Open Cloud, if you think about your architecture planning and build that portability and security of process and control into your Cloud using tools such as CloudForms then I reckon 80% of the actual inhibitors outlined in the Gartner report become actual reasons to go Open and to speed up Cloud adoption.