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The Server is Dead! Long Live the Server – as the Cloud

I spent most of last week hanging out with Pankaj – our CTO and co-founder who was visiting from our office in India to debrief with Forrester Research and attend the Professional Developers conference. Pankaj and I studied together during our undergrad and used to debate for hours on just about anything under the sun but most often about the technology roadmap. We ended up doing the same thing again – old habits die hard :-) .

As we talked through the changing technology landscape, I had an interesting incident happen to me. I got the blue screen of death on my hulk of my Windows Vista 64-bit machine, 8 GB laptop. The hard drive crashed and went into unrecoverable mode. I was left to work on my small little $299 1 GB netbook. It was an interesting experience to go from my ultra-powerful laptop to my ultra-light-very-little-software netbook. I decided not to install any software and work with Google Docs and Exchange OWA online. Google Docs itself was disappointing at how little it could do compared to Microsoft Office. But Google Docs was interesting in that it brought a new paradigm to the forefront. I no longer needed a personal computer. I could be anywhere, on any machine and could access all my documents without lugging along a laptop. It is limited and has limited storage but as this thing evolves and gets more features, it is going to become a very viable alternative to Microsoft Office.

Parallel to this incident, Pankaj kept talking about the cloud, azure – and he wasn't talking about the blue sky at the beach in Southern California. In that week we made our first move to the cloud and shifted the server that hosts this blog to Amazon's EC2 service. The switch was painless and voila we freed up two servers in our data center with full redundancy, database clustering and everything else that used to keep some of us up at night. We are now moving just about everything to the cloud. The server in our data center is dead. Because it is now replaced by the servers in the cloud.

The larger picture that did come home is that heavy laptops, in-house servers are going to go away and should go away except in the most demanding enterprise environments. Given today's pricing (and this is an important incentive), the scalability the cloud offers, and the inherent redundancy there is no reason for a mid-market business to keep most of its infrastructure in-house. There are several things that we see happening with this move to the cloud.

- More Green: The cloud is a fabric that can do a massive amount of load balancing of memory, hard drive space etc. With more people moving to the cloud the chances to optimize hardware is incredible. That means fewer servers, lesser power consumption and a greener environment.

- Death of the Data center: Businesses like Rack Space will soon see the death of their business model as they stand today unless they do something different. The cloud can easily offer much more at a much lesser price point. Our data center is a case-in-point. I would be surprised if hosted anything beyond experimental applications in our data center by March 2010 (we are only talking 4 months here).

- Shorter Time to Market: The time to market for an application is much higher because you don't have to buy operating system software, hardware or anything like that. you just turn on a switch in Azure, Amazon EC2 or whatever your preferred model is and you have what you need in a fully redundant, backed up and scalable model. The limitation today is the size of the database you can host there. But this limit will go up over time.

- SAAS becomes less compelling: This is counter-intuitive. But if you think about it  the big argument for SAAS is that it offers you redundancy, scalability and not having to need network administrators and the ability to get up fast. No one jumped to SAAS because they wanted to rent software. In fact SAAS providers today charge a premium because they can because of the benefits that come with SAAS. However, these benefits are now there in the cloud.  Customers can now marry the scalability, time to market benefits of SAAS with the cost benefit of owning licensed software.

We are extremely enthusiastic about cloud computing and how this paradigm will change businesses and reduce their cost structure for technology.

Sandeep Walia is the President & CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify is a Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle Partner  and ranked in the top 18 Microsoft Dynamics partners. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 3 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine.

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  1. Faisal F. Bin Zarah
    November 22nd, 2009 at 03:28 | #1

    Sandeep thanks for this article, and I totally agree with you. I was following up the Gartner Symposium and they stated that Cloud Computing continues to grow in importance. According to Gartner, the three important areas of corporate use of the cloud are consumption of cloud services, developing cloud based applications and implementing private cloud computing environments.
     
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/182801/top_10_strategic_technologies_for_2010.html?tk=rss_news

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