Cloud Schmoud – Why no one really cares

by Brian Katz on November 16, 2011 · 2 comments

These days everywhere you turn someone is talking about cloud computing. Not that most people can really agree on a definition, but they all claim they know cloud when they see it. They throw around terms like IAAS, PAAS, SAAS and all they really are doing is working with AAAS or Acronyms as a service.

Now, understand, that I am not a member of the Clouderatti nor have I been spending a lot of my time on cloud per se recently but it used to be part of my job description to think about and work on these sorts of things.

The truth of the matter is no one other than IT really cares. Cloud is a big pile of steaming crap, piled as high as the most recent vendor in the door can sell it to you. They will argue about public vs private vs hybrid cloud computing. They will offer to set you up with whatever you need and talk in term of ROI. They aren’t there to help you solve your problems; they’re there to make money. This doesn’t mean that the concept of cloud computing (utility computing to some) doesn’t have value. It most certainly does. It can save internal IT in terms of infrastructure, software, and energy costs amongst others. It can lead to much higher utilizations and efficiencies that allow IT to do what you really want them to do which is enable the business.

Why doesn’t anyone care except for the IT weenies sitting in the corner cubicle going on and on about cloud? Because cloud doesn’t matter, it’s just another way to look at infrastructure, or software or an entire platform. The business doesn’t go talk to IT about whether their data is in the cloud or not. They explain their business problem and want to be enabled. They want to be able to collect data, use their data and store their data. They want to be able to manipulate their data as quickly and as efficiently as possible without waiting an eternity for resources. It doesn’t matter whether that data is in the public cloud of Amazon, the private cloud of XYZ Corporation or some sort of hybrid of the two. They don’t care where the resources come from or where there data goes (let’s leave data security etc. out of the argument for the moment.) All that matters is that they can do what they need to do to get their goals accomplished.

People are talking about cloud as the next big thing that will solve all your problems. You need to save money, use the cloud, you need to secure your data, use the cloud, you want to make it easy to access your data use the cloud. It’s all bullshit. If you use cloud for any of these reasons and you don’t understand your fundamental business problems that you are trying to solve then all you’re doing is spinning wheels.

It’s time to start focusing on what you are trying to accomplish and less on whether you have the latest greatest thing. No, that doesn’t mean that cloud computing is irrelevant; on the contrary, it has a huge intrinsic value if it is used properly. But as a good friend of mine, George Reese, recently pointed out on Twitter, let’s stop calling it cloud computing and just call it computing. Does it really matter where it takes place in the grand scheme of things? Let’s spend a little less time waxing philosophical about Cloud or Big Data or whatever comes next and start looking at the best tools to allow you to solve your business problems and all the issues that accompany them.

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samj March 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm

The term “cloud” has served its purpose well — before it (when I moved to France in 2006 to found what would later be called a “cloud” startup) we’d use contrived terms like “virtual private intranet” to describe using multiple applications delivered as a service over the Internet (Google Apps, Salesforce, etc.) with SSO.

Unfortunately threatened vendors with big marketing budgets than our individual voices could compete with jumped on the bandwagon around 2008 and tried to hijack the term (with some amount of success) to mean pretty much whatever we were doing before. Virtualisation vendors and box pushers were particularly guilty of this (some more than others) and it is indeed unfortunate that we didn’t use a more benign term like “utility” and/or “service”.

You’ll be pleased to know that the searches for the term are starting to taper off this year and given today’s attention spans you can be sure that “cloud” will fade away before too long. When it does we’ll know we’ve been successful in that it will be implicit in the same way that the term “client-server” was initially used to differentiate from mainframe computing until it too became the default.

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