The Curious Case of Impulse Computing

There is a lot of passion around defining cloud computing, imageand frankly a lot of traditional enterprise vendors are playing defense. In chess they would call it a quiet defense, moving pieces into positions where they can defend dynamically if called upon.If AWS cloud infrastructure as a service is going to replace their customer’s current spend they want to position their architecture as what a cloud ‘is’ to soften the blow.

But thinking about cloud computing purely as a ‘replacement’ trend is a bit daft.


The other big distraction is comparing it in cost to building and running your own data-center on a fulltime basis. Costs should favor ‘as a service’ offerings over time as the market expands; its hit or miss today.

But comparing the costs of something you can access for a moment to the cost of committing to it for four years is a bit daft.


Thinking replacement this early in the market is a quaqmire. Instead I asked myself: “What percentage of AWS revenue is from projects that otherwise wouldn’t have happened?” I believe more than a third, and that third is where the really interesting things are happening.

Cloud infrastructures are the ultimate friend of the unproven idea. The impulsive act of computational creativity not worth pushing through a heavy-weight process. The application idea no Tesla driving MBA on Sand Hill wanted to fund. The quick quant run you need right now before your presentation—a whole array of processing and storage acts not worth the social burden of scheduling metaphorical camera crew for, but very worth pulling a Flip out of your pocket. AWS, quite literally, grew, the addressable market for computing in the same way the Flip grew video.

I have named this new market the ‘impulse computing’ market, and its growing faster than any other segment. (Do you have a strategy for it? Get off the defensive!)

This ‘Big Think’ video from Robert Cialdini offers us a great clue as to why many projects were snuffed out in the past. Being out of step with a group causes us literal physical pain on a small scale. The bigger the social burden in explaining our creative ideas, the less likely we are to pursue them.

What’s that mr MBA? You didn’t have cultural and social inertia as a project cost on your spread-sheet? Exactly. Its why you were looking for the new technology in AWS when it launched, saw none and underestimated its cultural, social, and innovation impacts.

So What:

  • Opportunity costs, are the greatest cost savings generated by cloud computing.
  • Use cloud computing to unleash your organizational creativity. Any software developer you are willing to pay a handsome salary too should also have an unlimited @Rackcloud account at her disposal just like they have water in the faucet, and a phone on their desk.
  • Computing power over time will come to resemble our attitudes towards bandwidth.  Use whatever you want within some generous limit without asking. When people don’t have to explain their resource usage creativity increases.
  • Vendors need to wake up to the dynamics of more impulsive projects. It won’t be easy, much of enterprise IT is focused on availability.