Living Life in the Clouds – lessons from the Airlines

During a keynote at the recent VMWorld EMEA event, in Cannes, Dr. Wolfgang Krips, VP, SAP Managed Services postulated that the Cloud Computing industry could become like the airline industry - not in terms of its energy consumption as has been speculated by various environmental groups and analysts but in terms of the way IT managers buy Cloud Computing services.

  • Today there are full service airlines ( seat reservation, in-flight meals, luggage handling - the works ) and low cost airlines ( open seating, bring-your-own food & pay extra for hold baggage ) - you pay your money and take your choice as to the type of service you want.
  • Ticket prices vary enormously depending on routing and day/time
  • Over-booking is an accepted practice and having a ticket does not always guarantee a seat
  • Departure/Arrival times are variable - weather, air-traffic delays etc
  • You can but your tickets from the airline directly , via a portal (
    etc ), as part of a complete package - flight, hotel, car etc, last minute or discounted from a bucket shop .

When you think forward as to where the Cloud Computing industry is going it quite easy to imagine that all of these elements could be applied to future cloud offerings

  • Prices will depend on the SLA offered - guaranteed uptime, data integrity or just take lowest cost compute resource available.
  • Portal sites will act as brokers for the various services available and sell capacity - we are already seeing this from companies like Zimory (
  • Underutilised data centres may sell off excess capacity at discounted rates just to fill their facilities or the popular services may raise price to limit demand
  • response time/completion time of a job run in the cloud will be non-deterministic - dependant on network traffic and system loading

So, definitely food for thought as to what the future of Cloud Computing will bring and how IT might interact with the various providers on the market place.

Are there other business models being proposed for Cloud services - I would be interested in hearing your opinions.