Every company from ADP to your hosting company is calling themselves cloud now. The question is: Was the service built for cloud or just stuffed into cloud?
Did the cloud services provider design the service to be in the cloud? Or are they shoveling gear in a data center and calling it "in the cloud"? Most stuff is the latter.
Made for the cloud means being built to take advantage of cloud technology, like Amazon Web Services and other distributed computing platforms. Cloud means Access Anywhere, which means big pipes of bandwidth. The 24/7/365 access means redundancy and resiliency have to be architected in, baked in if you will - not plugged in later. You don't add the chocolate chips AFTER you baked the cookie dough.
One of my clients likes to say that the difference between hosted and cloud is the number of data centers. You go from hosted to cloud when you go from 1 to 2 POPs. I disagree. Having a second data center doesn't ensure resiliency or failover or data replication or availability - elements crucial to a cloud service delivery.
Mike Doherty, CTO at Sonian, states that you have to design from the ground up using advanced cloud computing technologies. Sonian and Netflix did that. Vidtel was designed from the ground up for cloud video conferencing.
Slapping your box in a data center is not cloud. It gets called that, but it's not.
Scott Wharton, CEO of Vidtel, a pioneer in cloud-based any-to-any® video conferencing, adds, "It's also about your back office, auto provisioning, mutli-tenancy, etc. A PBX is not a Class 5 switch just because they both have call forwarding."
That's why channel partners and prospective customers have to be smart about what they are buying. They have to ask some questions about the architecture of the service.
- How many POPs?
- What about data center replication and failover?
- How did you design resiliency?
- Have you experienced any outages? Why not?
Questions like that will give you some insight into the type of cloud service.
I remember seeing a "data center" of an MSP in Tampa who had baker's racks and white box computers connected to cable modems. Technically, the checklist was marked off for computers, racks and connectivity; but in the end would that be the data center you picked?