If you’re a regular reader of Cloud Pro, you’ll have recently seen our very own Len Padilla, Senior Director of Technology at NTT Europe, discussing Amazon’ s EC2 service and its place in the cloud computing space. In the article, Len focuses on the differences between commoditized cloud solutions, such as those provided by Amazon, and bespoke cloud services that are better able to a respond to businesses’ individual needs, using the analogy of humans vs. robots, with Amazon’s EC2 services playing the part of the robot.

We’ve shared Len’s thoughts about this topic in full below, and you can read more about the debate between these different approaches to cloud deployments by reading the article over on CloudPro.

Also, if you’ve got any good analogies or metaphors that apply to any element of cloud computing, do share them through the comments box or tweet them to us  @NTT_Europe.

What choices do CIO’s have when looking to take their organization to the cloud?

One of the best ways to consider the choices is to think terms of the analogy of the human vs. the robot.

A cloud commodity provider, such as Amazon, has a place in the cloud computing eco-system and offers an efficient and valuable service for many organizations while serving a genuine purpose. For CIOs trying to decide whether Amazon’s model or a more traditional full service provider is the best option, they need to look at whether their organization is a complex heavyweight or highly automated and programmatic. If the latter, a provider like Amazon is probably a good option. Its service is highly automated and mechanized. Comparing Amazon’s offering to NTT’s is like comparing a machine to a human. Humans have flexible and unique elements to them that a machine doesn’t. 

But in reality, very few major organizations are set up in such a way that would suit a robot-like approach – which is where the key difference lies. The benefits of using a cloud commodity service is, in many ways, limited to web start-ups where the core demands of its application will be highly automated, requiring a simple, commoditized infrastructure to support it.

What can enterprise cloud providers do to rival commodity cloud?

The opportunity for rivals comes naturally from the limitations of the commodity cloud, by offering more complex, tailored and nuanced platforms with greater scale and reach .

The pricing of these rival providers is an attractive advantage and is what drives its competitiveness. This only really applies to companies who fit the pre-determined and one-size-fits all, programmatic shape of an Amazon type of customer. For organizations with more complex IT infrastructure and application needs, it doesn’t lend itself well to this model and so the value of low pricing quickly evaporates.

Customization is practically non-existent on either the hosting or infrastructure side. A provider like NTT can play with different network architectures and different cloud topologies, mixing physical and virtual systems, or public and private clouds to meet the specific needs of an end-user. Because of the cloud commodity model, it’s pretty much plug and play.

So, back to my point on the differences between the human vs. robot approach; the opportunity for premium providers is apparent. Many businesses we speak to find that with cloud commodity providers, there is rarely an option to talk to another person. For a business, it will limit the possibilities of your cloud architecture and is a major barrier to entry. Whereas premium, fully managed providers like NTT can help businesses in moving to cloud platforms. When using a cloud commodity provider, most decisions are left to the IT department to address.

Also, if you don’t have all of the technical aspects of your business resolved then you’re not ready to use API programme calls as the only interface to your IT estate – people are needed to fill in the gaps. This is where enterprise cloud providers have more to offer around general consulting or technical assistance. The human interaction to the cloud service allows companies to capitalize on what commodity providers don’t deliver.

Using a more enterprise-ready cloud provider, organizations will not only have their architecture and specification of their platform tailored to their business needs, but they can also negotiate with the provider to create bespoke business models which best fit their financial needs, taking the cost argument one step further. It is the personable element that will draw companies away from the likes of Amazon.

What has made Amazon so successful?

Amazon has shifted the conversation to its strengths. By getting early to market, being good at what it does and consistently adding new services in an amazingly fast way, it has been able to become a giant in the space. By creating an association between cloud computing and programmatic, industrialized virtualization, Amazon has moved the market to its way of thinking. It remains to be seen, however, if they can adapt to tailored requirements in mature IT environments.

As Len explains, depending on the size of your business and the levels of complexity within your IT systems, Amazon’s EC2 services might not be the most appropriate. However, as we advance closer to our Global Cloud Vision, businesses will be able to draw on the advantages of both systems to deliver a flexible and powerful cloud computing service.

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