The “Cloud” is the subject of an unbelievable amount of hype. Pragmatism is seemingly dead in the technology world; it’s been replaced by an endless stream of hype that is in no way connected to reality… I thought that perhaps that was just a product of the trend toward ERP systems in the late ’90′s or the moves toward tighter application integration in the early part of the last decade. Now, sadly, I see that we simply cannot stand to be pragmatic in our assessments of new ideas and new trends. So it is with cloud computing.
Cloud Delivery Model Explained
So what is cloud computing… And what isn’t it? It is, in two words, a delivery model. Anything that can be done in the cloud can be done on-premise or behind corporate firewalls. I think I could be fired from some of these research firms simply for making that last statement, but someone needs to separate fact from fiction. So here we are… Fact, I’ve got your back.
Mr. Peter Fingar is a very smart man and a very capable writer, and he makes some excellent points in his book entitled “Dot.Cloud”. I’d recommend it to anyone, but I would also caution any reader to view his prose critically. You see, like others, he mixes the true promise of the cloud – the ability to deliver solutions MUCH more efficiently – with the promise of more effectively designed and better targeted applications. Why don’t the two topics belong together? Because more effectively designed and better targeted applications can be built outside the cloud as well.
This is not at all to say that companies shouldn’t focus on the cloud; they absolutely should. However, they would be much better served by viewing the cloud delivery model as a way to deliver their solutions more effectively rather than something that should change their business strategy. Stated differently but from a slightly different angle, cloud computing will allow IT departments to deliver business solutions more rapidly, but the business solution designs themselves should not change.
A few parting points illustrating concepts that frequently get lumped into conversations about the cloud that have nothing to do with the new and more efficient delivery model:
- Social networking. There is no question that this can be leveraged to increase sales and customer service, but it doesn’t require cloud computing technology.
- Rich content sites. Rich content sites that leverage video to sell products & services have been around forever and have been provided without the use of cloud technologies.
- CRM. Yes, Salesforce.com is an excellent software package (and platform), but Siebel was revolutionizing CRM long before Salesforce.com ever existed.
- Rapid application (codeless) development. Software and solution providers have been providing codeless development methodologies for years… Remember Mercator, webMethods, etc?
In summary, the cloud as an alternate delivery model is going to be disruptive, but not because it provides additional capabilities. The Cloud Delivery Model will be disruptive because these model will increase efficiency and allow applications to be delivered more rapidly and at lower cost than they can be delivered using more traditional delivery models. If we can separate fact from fiction for IT decision makers as it relates to the benefits of the cloud, we will all benefit.
Questions/comments/criticisms? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org… And ask us how we can help you separate fact from fiction and plan your foray into cloud computing more effectively.