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Cloud Magic was a nice story, now with an unhappy ending • The Register

comment Much of the IT community was willing to tolerate — even encourage — magical thinking about the cloud, and many of us believed in it.

That’s what I did for a moment a couple of weeks ago when I saw what looked like a brilliant demo of drag-and-drop hybrid cloud storage management: from a screen showing on-premises and cloud volumes, a A few clicks and a tug of the mouse moved petabytes to a cloud, linking data to applications in both environments and porting security policies for good measure.

I then asked the inventors of this miracle if the user moving the data would be offered information about the cost they had just incurred.

The answer: “No. We’ll add that soon.”

That, and for the rest, any vendor can get away with such pathetic answers, because for years we’ve been told that the move to clouds and the adoption of elasticity and opex will change everything for the better.

Don’t forget that this provider has staked its future on providing cloud storage software instead of physical devices, so the only cost they care about is what you pay to license their code. The pervasive narrative of cloud magic means details don’t matter.

However, the truth has always been that the cloud – like any other source of compute and storage resources – is prone to sprawl, being mismanaged, or failing to deliver on its promise.

Last week, AWS and Microsoft admitted their customers have realized their cloud costs are spiraling out of control. Some of Microsoft’s customers might even be ready to leave because the software giant admitted that helping it control costs will improve long-term loyalty. AWS blamed a slowdown in growth on customers looking to break free from cloud resource commitments.

The individual clouds were included as part of a quarterly profit announcement. That makes the admissions all the more important because they represent disclosures to investors that clients have changed their behavior in ways that are likely to have a material impact on financial performance.

Public company executives do not casually throw out mentions of potentially revenue-depleting behavior from their customers. In fact, they must disclose such things so that investors are informed about the future prospects.

AWS and Microsoft have therefore informed investors that cloud users are holding their providers accountable for letting costs explode.

Exactly what the cloud promised, it would not deliver. Remember when Microsoft portrayed itself as the white knight who could save database users from needing huge and expensive overprovisioning?

Users clearly found that clouds often took them with them.

I was recently told the story of a massive cloud rollback necessitated by a combination of poor performance and a top 2 cloud’s indifference to finding a solution. The server provider, who picked up an order for 400 boxes, showed an attitude that the customer finds very gratifyingly different.

A systems architect I know also tells me that customers he meets are almost always amazed at the amount of processing power and storage capacity he can fit into half a rack, and are happy to sign up for it on old-fashioned terms because the savings are in comparison to cloud are colossal. Some of the facilities he recommends don’t even need a formal data center. A few well-ventilated closets and careful attention to resilient power and communications connections can do the trick. Once organizations master the numbers, their cloud ambitions will be blown away.

Some vendors are making another attempt to make cloud optimization ubiquitous. I hear talk of “intelligent clouds” and “super clouds”.

But clouds are still trying to perpetuate the magical myth. I recently came across AWS ads being played during a prime-time reality show, showing a family happily benefiting from a series of companies using the Amazon cloud, and a cute precocious kid doing the same .

The ads are really about seeking social license for cloud computing by making it mainstream, relatable, essential — but not just for nerds — and a little bit magical.

True cloud customers now know that cloud magic is just a story. And increasingly none with a happy ending. ® Cloud Magic was a nice story, now with an unhappy ending • The Register

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