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Enterprise Cloud Computing explained with cars (-;

September 26, 2011

Cloud Computing is difficult to grab due to all the confusion that is being created in the market place. I have found out that sometime an allegory helps. I will try to explain cloud computing based on cars as the IT industry is still dominated by males and I hope that the car theme resonates well with that audience. Sorry Ladies, if you do not buy into that. Maybe you have suggestions what would allegory would work in the female world. Post a comment and I might create an article based on your idea.

Self-Hosted Environment

A self-hosted IT environment is like owning a car. You have the full freedom of choice which size, make or color your car will have. You have to provide the garage and you drive it yourself, which apart from the fun of it in a business sense is lost time.

On the cost side of things you carry the full burden of owning and operating the car. This includes a whole lot of items:

Cost of purchase



Loss on sales


Renewals (either parts or a new car)

Insurance and Taxes


Renewals by the way are the tricky part of owning a car. It is about a proper balance between having a new and reliable car (at least if it is German or Japanese) or a cheaper and older car. It is a questions depreciation cycles and image. Also safety innovation comes into play (ESP being much like a firewall against crashes) when the technology jumps to new extras.  You also carry the risk of a crash and are accountable for the insurance.  

Another downside is that you cannot take your car with you in case you travel to a distant destination. Either you drive there or it stays at home.

Classic Outsourcing

So if you want to reduce the effort and complexity to own and operate a car you might want to look for other ways. Classic Outsourcing in a sense is a little bit like a leased car with a chauffeur. You can still decide which model you want (maybe from a reduced list but still a great choice available) and the color and extras. But you do not care anymore about the process of purchasing it or the maintenance. Neither do you have to pay the insurance nor the fuel. The car provider has a standard renewal cycle you agree on and might have a say if the renewal happens at an unsuitable point in time. Your chauffeur drives you around, so you can spend more time on work, and also takes cars of washing, refueling, etc.

It is though that you have to pay a kind of entry fee into your leasing agreement not only once but with every renewal (like upgrade projects for major IT updates). You have the options to have this operated mainly on your premises but have to provide the garage in that case.

The downside is that if you compare costs that this probably only works if you have more than one car. Only with a fleet of a certain size this model becomes a valid option. Often the cars in an outsourced model are much better equipped that self-owned cars.

Enterprise Cloud Computing

What could that be? It certainly is not a car (aka technology) but a service. The cars are brand new but vanilla flavor on a massive scale. It is fee per month (subscription) or per distance (usage based). It is not kept on your premises so you do not need a garage anymore. If you travel and cannot take your private car along (which is an issue on self-hosted?) you are just picked up by a local service station of your provider.

It sounds much like a taxi service to me. Stop, stop, I know what you are thinking. The individually owned taxis, which look like crap, stink and where the drive does not know where to go, is what we all have in mind. Believe me I have in taxis in and around major American cities where it felt like they forgot to upholster the backseat and the car felt like 2 million miles without maintenance.

This is not what I had in mind. Imagine a taxi service operated by a world leading company with high standards and a first class service delivered without a hitch across the world. You just choose the car class (yes there are options but quite limited) pay you fee and can focus on what is important – your work.


The car service provider operates the cars with all effort included. The renewal cycle it in the hand of the provider and you are just the user. This model allows a lot of flexibility with regards to usage scenarios. It is standardized and large-scale service. The only real downside is that you cannot show off to your neighbors anymore as you did years ago with your E10k* ups you V8.


I hope this helps to explain a little bit what the key differences are. Believe me when I state, that I have seen so many companies where the management drove in luxury company cars but their IT was like a rusting old car on hinges that my believe is that cloud computing is a breakthrough especially for the majority of small and medium-sized companies.

There is one exception which does not fit in the allegory above. It is classic cars. I read more and more people who use classic cars as day-to-day or even business cars. Sounds great to me but would topple my story completely as I cannot imagine anybody other than a museum to choose deliberately to run IT on classic hard- and software.

You want some more information, have a look here: Cloud Computing – confusion all around

You like the car theme, have a look here: If Google Apps and Office 365 were cars

You want to go to part 2, have a look here: Part2 – private clouds 

*E10k refers to a Sun E10000, which was once one of the top range models much like a nice V8 on the driveway.

  1. It sounds like you have a great way to explain the cloud concept, and a great business idea for transportation.

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  1. Enterprise Cloud Computing explained with cars – part 2 – private clouds «

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