Can the cloud be consumed at will like a buffet?
When you walk into a buffet, what are the steps you take before you start consuming resources (in this case, food)? It’s pretty simple actually but why not walk through it. First, you decide how many people in your party before grabbing your tray or trays. Second, depending on the institution and their pricing model, you might be able to negotiate a discount on pricing based on the number in your party. Third, you take your tray sit down and then something magical happens. You are able to consume as much or as little as you want. This typically doesn’t end well for most customers as they over consume, become sick and realize that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Now let’s take the example of a buffet and apply it to cloud pricing, wars, consumption, etc. What is stopping an organization, particularly an enterprise, from consuming cloud much like you would at a buffet? Well, there are some barriers to entry but before you even think of consuming cloud in this fashion simply ask yourself “should I be consuming cloud like a utility model where I prepay for everything up front in order to eat (consume) resource at will?” What a great question and hopefully you are smart enough to understand that if you give someone, particularly developers, the option of consuming resources they will consume, consume and finally consume. This type of philosophy can be applied to really any resource and isn’t isolated to cloud consumption. For example, how many times have you left the water running while you brush your teeth or left a room with the lights on? It happens more than you think and most people don’t think twice about it. Well, this philosophy has and will continue to trickle into cloud computing and consumption models.
Would the enterprise seriously consider buffet style or an ELA in the era of cloud?
When I was a customer I remember the Cisco’s, VMware’s and Commvaults coming in to talk with us about ways to reduce cost, consume whatever we wanted and basically never have to worry about incurring additional fees, hidden fees and operational frustrations. In the beginning, this sounded great but as time went on we began to realize that we weren’t really using all of the products and services these companies were offering. For example, VMware sold us on the idea of Enterprise Plus licensing. For those that don’t know Enterprise Plus licensing is the top tier licensing schema that allows you access to every feature under the VMware umbrella for the datacenter. Wow, you mean I get to consume it all? For a nerd like me this meant FT, vSphere replication, storage DRS, Network I/O control and the coveted Distributed Switch. Who wouldn’t love this? Well guess what happened? We didn’t use half the features that were available to us for a number of reasons. Why? Because we didn’t need to. What we used before the ELA was the same after the ELA but the pricing and the option of consuming it made it a no-brainer. My point here is just because you can consume something doesn’t mean you should.
Fast forward five years later and the same question can be asked for cloud consumption models. If AWS approaches a customer and asks them to sign an ELA for AWS and allows the customer to consume all services such as EC2, RDS, Lambda, Kinesis, IOT, etc is it beneficial for the customer to sign the ELA? Guess what the answer is? It depends. I have a feeling it would end the same way our VMware ELA ended. You “think” you will consume all these resources because they are “free” or at least reduced cost due to the ELA but in reality most of the features that aren’t used today won’t be used in the future unless your corporate mandate changes and you are forced to pivot away from your GTM.
Bottom line: consuming resources whether it be water, electricity, software or cloud services in a manner unbefitting to your health or corporate health is never a good idea. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.