what’s in a name? clouds

October 22, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Cloudy
My thoughts are scattered and they’re cloudy,
They have no borders, no boundaries.
They echo and they swell
From Tolstoy to Tinker Bell.
Down from Berkeley to Carmel.
Got some pictures in my pocket and a lot of time to kill.

There’s a lot of confusion over the term ‘cloud computing’. Some see it as marketing buzz, others see a new technological approach, some a business model shift.

It’s all of the above.

We have all seen the inexorable shift to the network. Before the web, there was thin-client computing, before that, dumb terminals. In fact a very notable technology company pronounced well over 25 years ago that the ‘network is the computer’. Prior to that, Ken Olson of DEC saw no need for personal computers, and Thomas Watson of IBM saw the need for perhaps only 5 computers in the world. In fact, if you combine all of these seemingly orthogonal declarations, you could conclude that with the fullness of time, there may be only a handful of computing utilities in the world, and in fact they were all correct.

There has always been a pendulum shift between centralized and decentralized management of computing resources and information. Sometimes these swings were in sync, at other times they were in opposition i.e. centralized information with decentralized processing and vice-versa.

Regardless. Everything is moving to the network. So it would seem to make sense that in order to bridge both processing and informational requirements we had to develop technologies to enable that shift in an economical manner. Economics of deployment, ownership and migration all being considered.

There is a distinction between the technology that enables ‘cloud computing’ – virtualization… of infrastructure, virtual machines and software stacks all coexisting on, and simultaneously leveraging the resources of utility computing. And, the applications which use that technology. Hence the confusion.

Talk to a techo and the discussion will be about the technology which makes this happen and detailed explanations of why their cloud is better than the competition. Talk to a business-focused person and they’ll tell you that delivering services on a network infrastructure, or as a service, has been happening for years, and this is all not that very new. Both are right. Context.

Confused? Well, just like .pdf and html clearly derived from LaTex, so clouds draw upon previous generations of computer architectural approaches. At a philosophical level there really is no difference, clouds really are just ‘water vapor’. However, when you dig into the detail, there are developments in the technology and business opportunities that may, and should, be leveraged.

Why not see if it works for you and your business? If the math works, all variables considered (including risk and other intangibles), then there is no need to be comfortably numb… if it doesn’t, then at least your math will tell you why. But please, don’t let the hype and your own personal lack of diligence prevent your exploration… and your opportunity to learn.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

Entry filed under: Media. Tags: , , .

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