"You don't need no SLAuto, you say, because you've got great customer service reps and data center techs? Well... 10 years ago I used to know people who prided themselves on their ability to dish out web space manually. They could charge credit cards and create customer folders faster than anyone else! Then competitors started using auto-provisioning tools and they went out of business. History will repeat itself."
Is the Tap Dry? (CXOtoday, India: Tahirih Gaur): Tahirih describes India's biggest aparent obsticals to utility computing: storage and inefficient management of outsourced IT. (Does anyone else see an irony in that? James McGovern?) She notes that many companies (banks for instance) have a problem with storing sensitive data on disks shared with competitors. She also quotes a Gartner statistic that 80% of all outsourcing deals are renegotiated within 3 years. I've posted on this before, and Nicholas Carr is writing extensively about it, but make no mistake that the move to utility computing is even more of a cultural shift than a technical shift. My employer is betting on the fact that a large number of organizations will not be comfortable outsourcing their utility computing entirely, and want to create a utility within their own infrastructure.
Utility computing's elusive definition (CNet news.com: David Becker): In searching for more coverage on utility computing, I came across this 2003 article covering a panel discussion on the topic at that year's Comdex. My first reaction in reading it is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. All of the issues presented here remain true today. I don't see one element of this article that doesn't ring true today (other than new marketing names for the vendor products).
I also love the proposition by Tony Siress (then Senior Director of Advanced Services for Sun) of transportation as a better analogy of utility computing than electricity:
Siress maintained that transportation is a better analogy, considering how people employ a combination of owned, leased and rented cars along with taxis to meet their changing transit needs. "Taxi cabs are a good example of a fully outsourced piece of infrastructure, and they're the right approach in some situations" he said. "The trick is understanding the mix of approaches that delivers the highest value and the least risk to you."
This actually highlights something that I have trouble remembering sometimes; that utility computing isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Not every application is appropriate for managed hosting, nor does every one require a private IT utility. Some "trips" (analogous to either transactions or functions?) require multiple "modes of transportation": a little SaaS, a little hosted virtual server capacity, even a few bare metal servers in a closet thrown in for good measure. The challenge for SLAuto is to provide policy across all of these, or at least provide the building blocks to do so.
Functionality (or "service flow") is the electricity in utility computing; hardware and software are just the generators and transformers. The network is the power line, and SLAuto is the demand management system.