I have a web-friend who’s of-late taken an interest in Cloud Computing and sent me a couple of posts questioning the those of us who herald Cloud Computing as a paradigm shift.
First comes the Financial Times where Fabio Banducci wrote using the example of YouTube to refute the claims of Lew Moorman, CSO of Rackspace who said claimed that Cloud Computing is indeed a sea-change for the world. Banducci’s somewhat insipid contention was based on the fact, as he says it, that YouTube was built using physical servers and got to scale without needing “The Cloud”. He says that;
They didn’t need cloud and they did it pre-cloud, as did many others, driven by the strength of their idea and access to the right technology to make it happen.
It’s the sort of emotive statement that frankly annoys me. Of course you can build an internet service to scale using physical servers – hell I can probably run my life on a 850Mhz PC with 256Kb of RAM and using dialup. Just becuase something is physically possible does not mean it’s the efficient thing to do.
For me it’s very simple. People who run web services have plenty to do these days. They need to consider their cashflow, market their product, be hyper-reactive to customer demands – the one thing that Cloud Computing gives them is the ability to not have to worry about some of the technical details of scaling their service.
Cloud Computing has a number of benefits but in this guise it’s that users are able to “stick to their knitting” and spend their valuable time worrying about the differentiated parts of their business, not the vanilla ones.
The next piece is more balanced an comes from Conde Nast’s portfolio.com site. Here Bryan Gardner, after giving a taste of both the proponents and opponents of cloud computing, comes up with the statement that;
Yet despite all the efforts Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and others put into making the cloud feel safe and fluffy enough for big corporate I.T. managers, there’s a good chance they will never be convinced. For many, there’s simply a philosophical commitment to keeping physical control of data. If so, then the cloud will only come of age after the current generation of corporate decision-makers is ousted.
Of course one would be a fool to deny that their are concerns within larger organisations about the cloud phenomenon. But to claim that the cloud will only come of age after the last of the baby boomers moves on from IT is crazy. Cloud computing and it’s associated themes (SaaS, PaaS etc etc) are achieving a groundswell and at a governance level CIOs will start to feel pressure to maximise the advantages that it brings to an organisation.
In the same way that IT felt threatened by PCs putting computing power into the hands of the everyday worker, so to do they feel concerned about the loss of control that cloud computing would seem to bring them – that doesn’t mean they have the ability to stem the tide – the Genie has left the bottle and it’s not going back in.