As I’ve stated several times here before, I’m not an IT guy (at least not anymore). It’s been around ten years since my last IT certification was valid or I had my hands in the day to day administration of a wide-area network.
I do have a pretty solid foundation in the principals of IT, networking and infrastructure, though, and I wonder if that’s the sole reason why I have a solid grasp on a lot of the terminology around cloud computing or if it’s just because I take the time to research the industries I write about.
Regardless of the reason why I have an handle on the section Jeff, John Nate and the rest cover extensively here at SiliconANGLE, it’s clear that many folks simply don’t have the foggiest clue as to what Cloud refers to in the context of IT.
Two recent events prompted this revelation. The first is the sudden popularity of a particularly NSFW video making the rounds right now extolling the virtues of the “fscking awesome cloud expert.”
Alex Williams over at ReadWrite Enterprise promoted it a bit and commented:
No one is spared by "the consultant":
"No one knows what is going on. Not even Gartner. Especially Gartner."
"CloudCamp is just a bunch of vendors getting pissed, eating pizza and comparing the size of their case studies."
"And what is this about Microsoft. They are considered to be one of the four big cloud providers and they are about as cloudy as Steve Ballmer is cool."
It goes on. it does strike a chord. The hype about cloud computing is so ripe for satire. Almost as much as socia media – which apparently was the inspiration for this sketch.
The cloud consultant makes his point pretty well about the state of the cloud computing market. Hardly anyone is making any money. Have we not seen this before in our world of over charged tech enthusiasm?
In the meantime, according to the consultant, the only ones making a dime (barely) on cloud computing are a bookseller and a search engine.
I shared the post on Friendfeed, without personal commentary, and it attracted the attention of a number of folks, one of which was my friend Mona Nomura, who shares Larry Ellison’s dislike for the term “Cloud Computing.”
I hate that term, cloud. Larry Ellison said it best back in 2007ish. Something along the lines of: “Oh so this means we just have to change all our (ad) copy.” Ha! Storing data on someone else’s servers – just because there are advances, it doesn’t make it new and shiny.
I do agree Ellison is a pure biz man, marketer, who likes money and power more than the technology, but in the case of ‘cloud computing’ I agree with his words.
Let me find the article for his exact words, I may have butchered his quote.
* Edit: I just Googled it and damn, that man really hates "cloud computing" with a passion. Sounds like a personal problem to me!
I’m of the personal opinion that there are two things that motivate such a distrust of the term “cloud computing,” particularly when it’s being used within the context of IT: they have a financial interest in muddying up the definition of the word for the rest of us, or they’re a victim of others’ misuse of the term, and they themselves are unclear on what it means.
There is Nothing New Under the
I actually wrote almost this same exact post during the August of 2008 over at Mashable. At the time, there was a weekend bitchmeme going around that rather extended itself into the news-cycle itself. It suddenly became cool to bag on the term “cloud computing.” Steven Hodson, Cyndy Aleo-Carreira, Mike Elgan and several others jumped on the “let’s bag on the term” meme for a bit, essentially asserting that cloud computing was “completely stupid,” marketing hype, and buzzword bingo, though they didn’t go very far into the definition of the term.
I tried to reign it all in by laying out the definition as I understood it a the time:
Rather than walk through all the historical examples of offloading computing to the cloud, let’s look at the most widespread examples today. If you search through Mashable’s archives for the term “cloud computing,” you’ll find that nearly all of the pieces make reference to either distributed computing, or something akin to Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Computing Service.
In essence (and I’ve had to explain the service about three times this weekend to technical lay persons), Amazon’s cloud is about redundancy and scalability. Your server and computing environment exists in a virtual sense, and it isn’t tied to any one particular machine. If one or five or fifty machines fail in the server farm, theoretically the environment is redundant enough to handle the shift without interruption in service. If your server is suddenly Slashdotted, then you can be allotted more resources (relatively painlessly) for the duration of the traffic spike.
It’s a completely different system from the mainframes of old, though, because there are parallel, scalable, intelligent and redundant systems in play with this model, and in most of cases in context to Cyndy’s original example, you’re talking about a single processor environment. Most importantly, Cyndy’s example is at best of a computer on the other side of a cloud. The processing is not taking place on the cloud.
In my discussion with Mona last night, I put it a lot more succinctly:
Cloud computing, in the context of IT, refers to scalable and virtualized resources not tied to a single server and generally sold as a service. It incorporates concepts of infrastructure, platform and software.
For that matter, and education as to exactly what it is you’re talking about, read up on the differences and crossovers of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS. IT and infrastructure isn’t simply web apps, unicorns and rainbows. There’s a lot more to it, and it goes beyond any single software component.
Bottom line, is that when you refer to offerings from Rackspace, Amazon, and VMWare, it’s a different class of product to what Larry Ellison derisively refers to as the cloud.
Software as a Services isn’t cloud computing in the IT sense of the word. Public and full featured clouds weren’t available as a competitive market as recently as three years ago when Larry Ellison began his vocabular jihad on cloud, let alone a period ten years ago that many pundits feel clever when pointing to the advent of thin client computing.
Cloud is new, it’s revolutionary, and it’s a unique set of technologies under a confusing set of terminology, but one thing it isn’t is marketing hype.