I must have been around 13 when I had my first pizza, courtesy of my neighbours, a warm and friendly Sephardic Jewish family; Flower Silliman, the mother of the family, was, and continues to be, an incredible cook; I took the family to India for a reunion last year, and we had Christmas lunch (!) at her home. (One of her daughters would later become my first ever girlfriend).
And what a pizza it was. The bread was flat, round and unleavened, gently golden. There was a light yet generous tomato sauce, lots of cheese, soft in the middle, a little crisping at the edge; some onion, some garlic, amazing fresh herbs. I keep imagining there was the hint of chilli, but that may just be me…. I like imagining things with chilli. And everything was cooked to perfection. Even today I salivate thinking about it.
It looked a bit like this photo from foodporndaily:
Now my memory’s not what it used to be. Perhaps there were other ingredients in the pizza. Perhaps I was 14 not 13 when it happened. Perhaps I’d already started going out with Flower’s daughter Michal. As I said, my memory’s not what it used to be.
But I still remember what a pizza was. And I still know what a pizza is.
A pizza is not a vegetable.
Apparently this is not a universal truth. According to the Huffington Post, in a story carried last Wednesday, Congress decided that pizza is a vegetable. Confused? Don’t worry. The Gothamist story illustration, reproduced below, may help you:
I read the story, and I was more saddened than surprised. Because I’d seen pizza masquerading as vegetable before.
The recipe seems to run a bit like this:
- Take a data centre.
- Add two spoons of tomato sauce.
- Decorate with the words “private” and “cloud”
An organisation may want its own data centre, for a variety of reasons. There may be regulatory issues. There may be a demand for sub 30 millisecond latency. The organisation may be risk-averse enough to warrant paying a significant premium for the luxury of its own data centre. All this is possible, natural, to be expected.
But the data centre remains a data centre.
An organisation may want to move towards the cloud — the word public is, in my opinion, tautological when placed in front of cloud — but it may want to migrate slowly. Techniques to make the journey easier are also normal and to be expected. So the organisation may choose to implement public standards — public in the sense of open *and* adopted — in its infrastructure, as part of the process of moving to the cloud. The organisation may choose to adopt a hybrid environment for a period, both data centre as well as cloud, as the estate is migrated piece by piece. And as I said earlier, perhaps not everything gets migrated, constrained by regulation or the need for millisecond speed.
But the data centre remains a data centre.
One of the essences of the cloud is the scalability and flexibility engendered by the existence of fungible resources. You pay for what you need
. For it to make economic sense, the fungibility needs to extend beyond the boundaries of the firm. Otherwise it’s a zero sum game
, as I’ve written about earlier.
There’s a natural temptation to say that if your market, your internal estate, is large enough, then surely you can run your own cloud. But what happens when demand outstrips supply? You will need to acquire capacity for peak rather than average, and then to defray those peak-associated costs. Once you implement for peak, what happens when supply outstrips demand? You’ll still need to defray the peak-associated costs.
Just like when you had your own data centre.
Actually that’s not surprising. Because that’s precisely what you have: your own data centre. A pizza is not a vegetable.
Sometimes an organisation may go even further. It may build an open multitenant infrastructure on public open standards. It may ensure that all its resources are fungible, and trade its way out of peaks and troughs, selling excess capacity to the market and “bursting” excess demand in similar fashion.
Open, public standards. Fungible resources. Trading supply and demand across a host of companies in the market, not just within your corporate boundaries. Now you don’t have a data centre any more. You have a cloud.
Two spoons of tomato sauce cannot turn a pizza into a vegetable. Nor a data centre into a cloud.