Consumer thinking must drive cloud services

Thinking about cloud applications from a consumer perspective is critical to an application’s survivability, according to chief architect and director of Juniper’s enterprise Asia Pacific division, Greg Bunt.

Speaking to attendees of IDC’s Cloud Computing Conference 2010, Bunt said the Apple conundrum embodied in the iPhone and iPad had a tremendous effect on the way businesses market to consumers and enterprises alike.

“It’s one of the first times in history, I’d say, that we’re being led by a consumer perception of business instead of a business view of business,” he said. “If you cannot get a consumer-level, quick response - which is generally 15 to 20 seconds - consumers will switch to someone else, and here’s an opportunity with cloud to improve both the experience and the economics by truly taking cost.”

However, the level of client-server interaction required to deliver ever-more complex experiences within the cloud required a rethink of how an application developers delivered their services.

“An easy commercial example to think of is Google Maps. When you make a request into Google Maps, it has to go off and find a physical map, a satellite map, it’s probably gone off and found all the restaurants, there’s quite a lot of interaction required to present back that end result for you and that’s very different from a traditional client server application.”

But the traditional network model - often characterised by multiple, interconnected data centres and switches - could not survive the increasing move to the cloud and cloud services. Instead, simplifying the network design, and shifting thinking strategies from business-focussed to consumer could lead to changes in the way a service is delivered to the end-user, Bunt said.

“If I’m going to shift my model and invite people into the data centre, or I’m going to move those work flows around, I’m going to have to start thinking about information being shared between data centres, whether they’re my own private clouds talking to each or I’m moving it to a public or shared resource,” he said.

Security was a key concern for Bunt, who said that it had to be an instrinsic part of the application, but also required a rethink from a consumer standpoint in order to maintain a high quality experience, particularly for mobile applications.

Bunt’s advice is increasingly relevant given the push forecast by analyst firms IDC and Gartnet for Australian businesses back toward the private cloud. Though public infrastructure offers self-service provisioning and massive scalability, the move to niche and hosted cloud infrastructures on a smaller level, as well as hybrid models with in-house assets, would force companies to rethink those aspects of provisioning a cloud-based service and the network design surrounding it.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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