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Cloud-busting – is there really only one true cloud?

The terms ‘cloud’ and ‘cloud computing’ and their exact definitions generate more heated debate in the technology sector than perhaps any other terms.

When we launched our big data infrastructure last year, people immediately and mostly loved the concept. But there was also a lot of discussion with the analyst community especially about our cloud credentials. The idea of there being ‘one true cloud’ was raised. We would dispute this in the strongest terms, and this is why. 

How do you define ‘cloud’?
If you ask ten different people to define ‘cloud’ you will most likely receive ten different responses. When we launched our big data IaaS in 2013 we spoke with virtually every major analyst organisation about our proposition, from the bigger analyst groups such as Gartner, IDC and Forrester, to smaller (but no less relevant and knowledgeable) players in the market.

We had many interesting conversations and a number of those analysts including Ovum and Forrester wrote complimentary profiles about us. But what struck me most was that even such experienced and smart analysts couldn’t agree 100% on the exact nature of the cloud.

Because we use bare metal servers to generate such computing power – the world’s most powerful public cloud, no less – some analysts queried whether or not we were true cloud providers. They all liked the proposition and saw the potential it had to process and manage big data quicker than other infrastructures but wondered whether the cloud community might question our cloud credentials.

Bigstep’s take on the cloud
We believe that the cloud is a delivery model. Any cloud proposition should offer instant self-provisioning, cloning and a flexible pay-per-use billing system. For users, this means: buying services and resources and only paying for as much or as little as is required or used; and scalability, the ability to add or take away resources at a moment’s notice.

While awards are certainly not the final definitive word on these matters, the fact that we made the shortlist at the UK Cloud Awards 2014 and won in the ‘Newcomer of the year’ category would suggest that the cloud community is accepting of our offering.

But do definitions really matter? While some providers are certainly guilty of adding the world ‘cloud’ to an offering in order to make their technology seem more relevant and exciting, the truth is that ‘cloud’ can mean different things to different people.

The industry spends too much time talking about technologies and not enough in explaing why such technologies are of benefit. So whether Bigstep is a cloud provider or not, we provide a flexible big data infrastructure that allows any organisation to analyse terrabytes of data quicker than any other provider – now that’s something worth talking about!

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