For a CEO not up on the technology side of things, asking a techie “What is Cloud?” would be as useful as asking a meteorologist the same question… there are too many wrong answers amongst the right ones, for the particular needs of any particular CEO, not to mention that the term itself has become almost redundant.
I’ve discussed and positioned the topic of cloud with peers, clients and colleagues at dinners, meetings, events, industry forums and pubs – and spoken in front of the same people at many of the above. Those of work in and around this space seem, for the most part, to know what they’re talking about even when at cross-purposes or in disagreement. I have noticed, though, that there are four primary, intersecting loops of cloud belief. Cloud is seen as one or more of:
- A technology model
- A utility (or service) model
- An operational model
- A commercial model
And, as is often the case in IT, the anomaly is the norm: none of those views are incorrect or correct, necessarily: like the work required to get there and the reward on arrival, it depends on the point of view and the requirements of the beholder. When finding my way to a solution I often take hybrid as my first position and from there work towards either end as needed.
Time for a new Term?
Does this mean it time for a new term or terms? (no, please!) As an industry what is needed is that we provide clarity and consistency (along with some good solid honesty). While not a big fan of regulation and often less than thrilled with how (and why) standards are sometimes implemented, I do rather like both when they are done properly: they can result in a level playing field and from my experience the required clarity and consistency of terminology typically happens when standards are applied. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) “Definition of Cloud Computing” is a strong starting attempt to clarify the ambiguity that is Cloud, starting with the following five identifiers:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity enabling quick scale-out
- Measurable services
But of course it wouldn’t be cloud if we didn’t have several strong starting points, including the Open Group, Distributed Management Task Force, Cloud Security Alliance, Storage Network Industry Association, and Open Cloud Consortium all of which have cloud standards that might apply to most scenarios.
Cloud Computing is NOT a Trend
Cloud computing is a fundamental shift in capabilities that enables a fundamental re-think from “what can we do?” into “what do we want to do?” and which offers a focus on growth and opportunity across industries, world-wide, including all sides of the equation – manufacturers and vendors, service providers, techies and end users and businesses of all sizes.
Vendors and their marketing agencies coming up with new, clever ways to sell and describe products is a game that will not stop but a little consistency and clarity in describing just what it is that they bring to the table would go a long way… (and so would the relationships created in the process).
Author: Daniel Steeves