The Future is so Cloudy, You Better Wear Shades

Blog Post created by richard Employee on Apr 18, 2011

Why is it that I do most of my writing in airports…statistics I guess…


As those who attend the UC may have noticed, we announced that we are taking a good long hard look at “Cloud” computing and how it plays with the roadmap of the PI System. I was fortunate to meet with a number of you to discuss your ideas and what is clear to me is that PI System hosted applications and services are a forgone conclusion. What isn’t so clear is what specific hosted applications and services customers are ready to accept as part of their information infrastructure.


To try and generate some clarity OSIsoft has formed both technical and business research teams to explore the real opportunities for value. These teams are hard at work exploring the technologies and business models in the “Cloud” space.


Since I am sitting in the “chair” I will share my views (and please, please note that this does not represent our company roadmap or indicate any commitments to deliver at this point.)


The PI System infrastructure must be extended to the cloud. The future to me looks like a continuum of applications and services spread from on-premises to hosted environments. A few will favor exclusively one or the other end, but most will find the greatest value in a hybrid model. For example, in the near term I can see the Directory Services (AF, etc.) hosted since it is relatively static data. I can also see applications like PI Coresight running in the cloud. While it is likely that Data Services stay close to home and close to the high volume of rapidly changing signal and streaming data sources. Of course, as is a mantra of the current system, data reliability, durability and availability will be a key to the value and success of these hybrid systems.


Another big opportunity with the cloud is the ability to make data available to mobile devices without having to allow them access to the corporate or even worse control networks. The security models afforded to this approach are encouraging us to finally explore mobile device applications.


Related to the mobile opportunity, a whole new generation of secure integration services will be spawned in the cloud. Imagine being able to securely share specific PI System information to authorized application vendors. Vendors can provide applications with rich PI System access without ever venturing to the corporate network. I am expecting a renaissance of new applications and services built on the PI System as the barriers to entry (security, deployment, TCO) are lowered.


One thing that became clear from a number of my conversations is that the greatest challenge to IT will be to enable high performance, high reliability networks for their users. As hardware resources, operating system maintenance and application management shift the cloud, IT will need to shift more of their energy to architecting and maintaining a solid infrastructure.


Those are a few of my thoughts. As always, I’d love to hear yours.