Two Kinds of Cloud Infrastructure

I’m just getting around to writing about a terrific post by Rodrigo Flores over at GigaOm about SLAs and cloud infrastructure. Flores neatly articulates something that we have based nScaled on – the importance of the enterprise service agreement and SLAs in cloud, and the factors that make a cloud “enterprise grade.”

Flores starts by pointing out a classic mistake that IT teams make when comparing make-vs-buy decisions: they undervalue their own time, particularly with respect to ensuring that systems are dependable.

Recently, I received an e-mail comparing a customer’s internal storage costs to Amazon’s. Of course, Amazon seems to be cheaper based on a pure gigabyte comparison. But it was a flawed analysis because it didn’t include the service level promised, never mind guaranteed.

He then segues into the subject of there being two basic types of cloud infrastructure customers:

One cloud will be for apps designed for failure, scale out and mobility: perfect for single app startups coming out of Silicon Valley and some new field applications. Which makes sense because startups have more labor than money.

The other is built to bring existing enterprise applications into a more cloud-like operating model; meaning transitioning existing applications and workloads to be more on-demand, elastic and pay-per-consumption… thanks to better SLAs customers can know what they are choosing and price that into their estimates.

Exactly! Amazon and others get all the attention in the cloud IaaS market, but Amazon is only appropriate for the first group of users, the single-app startups. Businesses that want to get out of the datacenter business and migrate to the cloud need IaaS that’s been designed to meet the dependability requirements of the enterprise applications being run on them.

And while the technical infrastructure is critical, of course, to providing that dependability, the enterprise service agreement is equally important. At nScaled, our agreement runs 35 pages or so and covers all the issues that affect corporate IT teams. Contact us at and we’ll be glad to walk you through it.

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