Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing. Now there’s a buzzword with a happy ring. It sounds like computing above the work-a-day fray. It conjures up visions of flight—it sounds light and effortless. The cloud computing experience actually has some of those aspects for most users. It means buying access to almost unlimited computing power and never worrying about power outages, hard disc failures, port conflicts, address provisioning, system security, or a thousand other things involved in keeping a data center running.

And, in the control-freak heart of every effective library sysadmin, cloud computing stirs a fear of lost control. You can’t browse the OS logs. You can’t see what other processes are running. You can’t peer into the guts of the system. After all, what are they paying you to do?

I would venture a thought for such faithful and fearing sysadmins -
cloud computing is a chance to focus more on the applications that add value to your institution and worry less about the infrastructure underneath them. SirsiDynix has, to this point, kept its new Enterprise offering SaaS only because we believe an economy of scale is required to provide fast and effective access to vast information resources. We believe that even small public libraries have to think beyond the catalog to provide meaningful information services. Recent announcements from OCLC and Serials Solutions indicate we’re not the only ones thinking along these lines.

Jared Oates
Director of Product Strategy, Engineering


  1. Hi Jared, having had conversations with Talin & Chris at the COSI conference this week, they're aware of the some of the local issues facing the UK public sector. Cloud computing and SaaS undoubtedly is the way forward, but it's sometimes easier to find a one-off lump sum (perhaps from capital or external funding), whereas on-going revenue funding is harder to find. As such, SaaS is sometimes not feasible where annual revenue expenditure will increase, and particularly where the opportunity for one-off capital purchases arises. Traditionally these sort of capital lump-sums have enabled organisations to pay for large projects (such as LMS migration) and local hardware.

    It's an issue that I'm keen to see vendors address, hopefully with some creative solutions!

  2. That's a great question. You're not the only one to raise it. It seems to come down to an accounting question. The evidence we've seen so far shows a lower total cost of ownership with SaaS solutions. It makes sense, then, to a non-accountant like me that we could find some kind of escrow arrangement that would accommodate capital purchase funding models. Maybe not. I know it's something we'll be investigating.