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Adding Resiliency to the Cloud for SMB Market

Another Google outage today highlights the issue that Cloud computing has ahead of it, that statement isn’t new, been reported and blogged about to death.  I’m a huge fan of Cloud computing, the capacity on demand, the ease of management (mostly), etc.  The benefits are clear and have been talked about to death.  I’ve been involved in some massive projects over the years, many before the advent and term “cloud computing” many would have benefited immensily by the cloud approach.  Popular websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc wouldn’t be around without cloud and cloud like technologies, Twitter uses S3 for storage for example.  I use Google Apps myself for my personal domain, but I accept the outages because for the most part my personal domain isn’t tied to my business.

Google and Amazon’s cloud have a place, they’re fantastic for large scale web application serving, particularly to industry that can leverage the infinite scalability capabilities these clouds offer.  But what about the SMB market?  The SBM market doesn’t really need “infinte scalability.”  SBMs need email, a web server or two for Internet and Intranet sites, order entry systems with a database, pretty simple stuff and not large scale.  By pushing an SBM’s “internal” systems to the “AmaGoog” sized cloud one now relies on the DSL, Cable, T1 or Lan extension far more than they did before.  But it goes beyond the DSL connection, it goes to the ISPs connections, their peering and transit providers and the overall resiliency of the cloud provider.  Google and Amazon have both proven that this isn’t easy.  Will it get better, sure,but by how much?  As today proved, one mistyped command on a router and it all goes away and your business is done until it is restored.

I don’t think the solution to these markets are large clouds from Amazon and Google, but rather smaller edge based clouds, clouds at the ISP level, what I call “Edge Clouds.”  A cloud at the ISP level isn’t relying on the stability of the Internet as a whole to deliver a solution to the SMB market. A pipe to the ISP, a connection an SMB already has is the only needed link in the chain.  Add to this value add services that the “AmaGoog” Cloud doesn’t offer, and you begin to develop a whole new tier of Cloud providers.  The benefit to SMB?  A product better tailored to their needs and one that can offer features most SMBs can only dream of.  The scalability on demand is still there, because ISPs work on a scale that is far beyond the size of the SMBs that uses their services.

But what between small “edge clouds” and larger “AmaGoog” sized clouds is the best approach?  That’s simple, interoperability and compatibility.  The Edge Clouds needs to work with the “AmaGoog” sized clouds and viseversa so that both scales can leverage one another.  Amazon and Google need the Edge so they can be closer to the end user, and the ISPs and Enterprise need the large clouds for the capacity on demand, the idea of the cloud certainly interests SBMs, but they don’t know where to start, it’s too complicated, and to “risky” for most SMBs.  That smaller “edge cloud” approach is needed, so the SBMs can leverage the benefits of the cloud but limit the negatives.

More to come on this topic.

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