As the noted writer and futurist William Gibson stated: “The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.” And in no field is this more true than cloud computing. From its very start, cloud computing has been avidly adopted by startups, mavericks and rogues, drawn by its easy access, high scalability, and, critically, its pay-per-use model obviating the need for significant capital investment.
Over the past few years, enterprises have also adopted cloud computing -- and today, major cloud providers can each point to large enterprises making significant use of their cloud computing offerings.
What is less appreciated, however, is the inconsistent level of cloud adoption throughout these enterprise customers. Within each enterprise, some groups are running large applications that represent two or more year’s experience in the environment, while other groups in the same company may just be starting to experiment with the same provider. And, in that same enterprise, there may be other groups that are completely inexperienced with cloud computing and just beginning to learn the ins and outs of the cloud.
And that uneven distribution of “the future” presents a significant challenge -- and issue -- for enterprises. As they begin to integrate cloud computing into their standard infrastructure environments, the inconsistent experience and knowledge of cloud computing causes these problems:
- Individuals and groups may have different knowledge bases about a given cloud environment, making it likely that an enterprise’s applications -- even though they run in the same cloud environment -- are designed, coded, and operated differently. This will undoubtedly cause difficulties in the long term, as IT operations confronts the need to manage a variety of application implementations, with associated skill and cost issues.
- It is difficult to manage skill and workforce assignments, since someone who has worked with a cloud environment may find that when he or she moves to a new group that it uses different design techniques, cloud service offerings, and different application components.
- It is difficult to compare the costs of different applications, since they use different designs and services, Since many of these applications now represent revenue-generating business offerings, this inconsistency can have a real bottom-line effect on the enterprise’s financial outcomes.
For these reasons, I have always believed that cloud computing would inevitably require standardized training curriculums and commonly accepted certifications, which would provide much more confidence to enterprises that their cloud applications are based on best practices. Indeed, I have been surprised that, given the dramatic growth of cloud computing, that this move toward training and certifications hasn’t occurred sooner.
Enter the IT Cloud Computing Conference, a multi-cloud DevOps training conference for developers and IT managers. IC3 represents, in my view, a watershed -- representative of the inevitable move to a formalized approach to integrating cloud computing into enterprise infrastructure environments and organizational practices. I expect that this training/certification movement will only grow over time and will in less than five years, make cloud computing resemble other standard technology platforms like relational databases and virtualization.