At this point we have about 81 server instances up and running in the cloud. A few over at dedicated hosting company and of course our internal servers.
Because newScale supports a variety of platforms, I've spent the last few weeks evaluating and trying different cloud providers and it's been super useful to truly assess the state of cloud offerings today.
And one thing is struck me: The "self-service" consoles are just not serviceable. So my insight is
Self-Service in the cloud will be MUCH, MUCH, MUCH harder than people expect.
This is due to two factors.
One, the need for configuration self-service means that the front end will have to be more intelligent, powerful and configurable to truly drive the assembly of useful workloads. Appliances / Images are too gross a deployment unit for real applications, so these assemblies will require a lot of "over-writing" configuration scripts. We will need to have constraint rules (this option clashes with that option).
For example, in our cloud deployment, the image is not enough. We need to set up DNS directions, decide if there's a volume for back up or not, which data center and region to use. We also need to specify end-dates for subscriptions, and service level option; this goes to the customer account record -- part of which is in SalesForce. And this is a trial architecture, never mind trying to set up n-tier stuff.
Second, because te cloud is so new, there will be a lot of volatility as to exactly what is the right offering package, service tier, configuration, admin actions, etc. This means the self-service front end better be very flexible to account for new actions. For example, if the user need to have limited Guest Admin VM privileges, that self-service better have good Role Based Access Control and a flexible set of configurations functions to allow some fine gradations of privilege assignment.
Why is this important? Because in every cloud architecture I've seen, there's a box that says self-service catalog on top of 50 other boxes. Then they speaker goes to talk about all the burly, manly infrastructure underneath.
Funny story: . One of the cloud providers I tested did try to offer an application request in addition to infrastructure. The ugliest, loneliest little form with what seemed 58 unintelligible check boxes. Selecting anything in it required a 24 hour turn around and probably a call. That's so NOTcloud. I moved on.
If you can't see the offer, configure the request and order it, your cloud will be empty of users.