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GCN : November 2012
AT A RECENT company conference, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison officially became a "cloud convert," announcing an array of cloud offerings, including Infrastructure-as-a- Service (IAAS), private cloud and a multi-tenant or "cloud" version of the Oracle 12c Database. These developments are indicators that cloud com- puting is shifting to a new level of acceptance, adoption and competition, pushing government agencies and commercial firms further along several waves of cloud adoption. Public-sector agencies are among those driving the move to the cloud, with initiatives ranging from the Obama ad- ministration's Cloud First im- perative to a variety of cloud computing plans by cities. But how much impact have they had on overall cloud computing trends? Here's a look at four distinct waves of cloud adoption and some thoughts on when or if they will hit a tipping point. 1. THE "STARTUP" This wave is composed of start-up firms launching interactive "Web 2.0" sites that can scale in both capac- ity and cost as their user base scales. The primary driver for this group is metered billing because it best fits their busi- ness model. Evidence of this is seen when any major cloud provider goes down and knocks out a huge swath of our favorite Internet sites. 2. THE "COMMODITY" Composed of government and industry organizations primarily interested in reduc- ing data center costs via IAAS clouds. This wave will witness a growth and consolidation of IAAS providers (evidenced by Go Daddy recently dropping out of this space) and eventual- ly culminate in either de-facto or formal IAAS standards. 3. THE "CONSUMER" This wave is composed of aver- age individuals --- including government employees --- who subscribe to cloud services directly without knowing or caring how it works. A recent Citrix Cloud Survey found that 51 percent of respondents be- lieve that stormy weather would interfere with their cloud com- puting. When this wave swells in earnest, that percentage will be reduced dramatically. 4. THE "ENTERPRISE" This wave will occur when all agencies and commercial firms target the majority of their IT development, includ- ing mission critical applica- tions, to a cloud platform. If the cloud is to fulfill its prom- ise of becoming a "computing utility" similar to electric grid providers, consumers and governments will then have no fear of switching providers. It should be clear that each of these waves of adopters supports the next wave. If you plotted these waves as normal distributions, with the Y-axis being adoption and the X-axis being time, you could draw a line at Time T where all four waves intersect somewhere in their lifecycle. At that point --- where all of these waves of adop- tion are either continuing or have begun --- that will be the tipping point where the cloud becomes the dominant computing platform. Today we are at the zenith of Wave 1, about 15 percent to 25 percent into Wave 2 and at the starting point of Wave 3. Of course, there is the pos- sibility that either a catalyst or disruptive event could hasten or hinder any or all of these waves and thereby hasten or hinder the cloud tipping point. While US and European governments are trying to play the role of catalyst, the evidence shows that the first two waves have been and are progressing with almost no influence or acceleration from their participation. The marketplace of providers and mindshare of developers is the only thing currently influ- encing these trends. Given that cloud interoperability is crucial to the government, being part of the fourth wave of adoption may be later than they hoped for. • --- Michael C. Daconta (md- firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president of advanced technology at InCadence Stra- tegic Solutions. HOW CLOSE IS YOUR AGENCY TO CLOUD'S TIPPING POINT? GCN NOVEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM 19 WHAT ARE THE CLOUD WAVE TIPPERS? Here's a look at the key drivers that could provide the tipping point for greater cloud acceptance, adoption and competition: The "Startup" Wave -- The primary driver for this group is metered billing because it best fits their business model. Evidence of this is seen when any major cloud provider goes down and knocks out a huge swathe of our favorite Internet sites. The "Commodity" Wave -- The primary drivers of this wave are data center self-service and data center consolidation. This group will witness a growth and consolidation of IAAS providers and eventually culminate in either de-facto or formal IAAS standards. The "Consumer" Wave -- The drivers are multiple devices --tablets, smartphones, cars, sensors, etc. -- and the desired simplicity of them all seamlessly working together. The "Enterprise" Wave -- The key drivers are cloud interoperability and reliability. If the cloud is to fulfill its promise of a "comput- ing utility" similar to the electric grid businesses, consumers and governments will then have no fear of switching providers. REALITY CHECK BY MICHAEL DACONTA