Do we need more analogies for cloud development?

In a previous blog article here, I discussed how buying a coffee machine for the office versus the cost benefit of buying in the ready made coffee from the professionals, and how the decision to move to the cloud can be seen as a similar investment, either do-it-yourself, or using the specialists on a pay-as-you-go basis.

In buying a new washing machine last week, I realised we can use this as a similar example, but for the standardisation involved in a transition to the cloud rather than a financial and quality-based decision. Some of you reading this may not be as old and grey haired as I am, but I can certainly remember the maturing processes the washing machine has been through over the past years. If I remember the market in the 1960s and 70s, the offerrings for machines were far from standard – twin tubs, mixed with front loaders, mixed with small or large, wide ranges of attachements fit to the tap, plumb in, separate driers etc etc. However, looking at the offerings today, we see a commodity device, offerred in a restricted range, by a diverse set of manufacturers. Today we have washing machines that come in a standard size across all suppliers, yes there is a choice of built in or under the counter/free standing but looking at any machine there is barely a difference even in look, and even in the differences in features such as power of spin or load capacity – these are pretty much the standard menu between the various suppliers – 800rpm vesus 1200rpm, wash only, wash and dry etc. etc.

So how does this relate to the cloud. Well, take that sentence above on today’s offerings “we see a commodity device, offered in a restricted range, by a diverse set of manufacturers”, this can also be applied to the cloud.  When we have owner-managed servers or systems today, we have a multitude of builds, a multitude of configurations, a diverse set of almost customised requirements. What we can expect, is that the cloud will consolidate the computing market. Like the evolution of the washing machines into a standard set of sizes and powers and functions, and the choice between manufactureres of different quality to price ratio, in the cloud we can expect a similar menu of services on offer for different purposes. We can already see the convergence of commodity services, driven by a restricted set of menus of options for both machines and capacity/power, creating clear quality versus price choices from the large vendors. As the market grows these one-size-fits-all will become more and more standard.

I believe that changing cloud vendor, will one day be as easy as the simple replugging I had to do to install my new machine – quick, clear, easy and minimal risk. Standard services at transparent prices available on a plug and play basis. The market is closing in on that, yes, it has a little way to go, but it is inevitable, and we cannot ignore it.