Sunday, 6 February 2011

Cloud Computing. Are Utility and Cloud Computing really analogous to traditional utilities?

The analogy is often made between utility computing and other ‘traditional’ utilities such as electricity, gas, water, and telephone. The same analogy is now being made with cloud computing. At a high level this makes sense. In the same way there is no need for each individual or company to operate their own power plant, do they really need to operate their own computers? Why invest in the capital equipment to provide a computing capability if it can be piped into the premises and purchased ‘on demand’? The opportunities for economies of scale, the centralization of expertise, increased reliability and scalability all make perfect sense.

However, as Nicholas Carr also recognizes in his book “The Big Switch”, analogies often break down once you move to another level of detail as highlighted in the table below. Here we need to understand the difference between the utility (e.g. electricity) and the application of that utility (e.g. cooking).