Working in the technology industry for more than 15 years I’m used to different trends coming and going which represents attempts of all sorts of entities with different interests to enter or penetrate a specific domain to make more money. What I find always “funny” is how fast you can generate a “community” of people becoming followers and believers in the new trend just because it is new, “someone said”, or just because “everyone does that and this is where the industry goes”. In principle one could argue what’s wrong with that? And I would say nothing if it is not disrupting your day to day job , and provides value.
Well I believe that the “cloud” is one of these examples where someone created a buzz word, and suddenly it became “the most important thing in the software industry” and I ask REALLY????
I waited with this blog for quite some time as I also wanted to make sure I see the full picture before I make any decisive statements, however going deeper over and over again I’m sorry I don’t see the big promise in the “cloud”. It might be that I am inside the cloud and don’t see due to the fog inside :-) , or is it the case of the Emperor’s new clothes that no one really see anything but plays along with the game as he is afraid to look like a fool???
From my discussion with many people around the world working in the business I feel this is the case. In private discussions I have with people from different companies (software vendors, big global banks, small/medium SI’s) , line of business and roles (sales, developers, consultants, and more) I always hear “yes you are right we also not sure what’s new in the cloud and whether this is really the future” however as soon as the discussion comes to official streams and in the headlights every one clapping their hands and say “yes”…..
What is this “Cloud”? well I always love to use the Wikipedia as a source to check different terms, usually it provides a very good definition and if not it shows you the fact that this topic is quite vague or so specific no one care about it enough to write…. In our case here is the definition which I find quite interesting:
Cloud computing is a colloquial expression used to describe a variety of different types of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers that are connected through a real-time communication network (typically the Internet). Cloud computing is a jargon term without a commonly accepted non-ambiguous scientific or technical definition. In science, cloud computing is a synonym for distributed computing over a network and means the ability to run a program on many connected computers at the same time. The popularity of the term can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of application service provisioning that run client server software on a remote location.
The way they describe it articulates my point in this blog which is “cloud computing is a jargon term without a commonly accepted non-ambiguous scientific or technical definition” meaning, people in our industry talks about the cloud like they all know what they are referring too however most of the people are not really sure what it means….
In most of the cases when people refer to the cloud in the IT industry they mainly talk about two main things:
- Hosting – this is the capability to provide hardware resources to companies that prefer to lease their servers instead of buying and maintaining the actual hardware. The hosting started from the web hosting for web apps and grow to providing a server capabilities for any purpose, especially with the evolution of the virtualization technologies thanks to VMware that enables servers to be virtualized over a unified hardware and AMAZON that found a nice cost effective model to provide servers for any kind of usage.
- ASP/SaaS – Application Service Provider also called “on demand software” and SaaS meaning software as a service which basically means providing specific software application in a hosted manner without the need to install it on the customer servers and use it in subscription model of some sort. in this case you should ensure the software has multi tenant capability if you want to be attractive.
Both of the above (Hosting and ASP/SaaS) are very old concepts running for years, so what is so new?? What is the innovation everybody is talking about? When I look at most of the claim to be “cloud based solutions” out there I do not see anything that provides any revolution or even evolution from just the old way of providing hosting services (maybe chipper with AMAZON but that’s it) or ASP/SaaS based applications like saleforce.com kind of solutions.
Some people confuse the “cloud” with the different concept called the “Grid” which was introduces also many years ago to represent a way to run software over different computers in an on demand manner, meaning a specific software could exploit the memory and CPU power of different computers in which you can plug and play dynamically without being installed on these machines. The Grid promise was that you can make use of computing power available like use the people PC’s when they don’t use it that could enable running high power processes in a low cost model making use of existing capacity. This is definitely not “cloud” and one should not confuse (or let others confuse him) about it.
So if “Cloud” is just a nice name for hosting/ASP/SaaS, Is it really the future? Is it really so “game changing” for us as individuals or as companies? Of course it would save some money in the short term on hosting but what is there more? Where is the vision?
In my personal view “the cloud” trend is actually very disrupting to serious work needs to be done in the IT business (across industries).The fact that such minor topic with no real value gets so much attention from customers, leading software vendors, analysts and the fact that it is sold as the solution to everything even though it does not, takes the focus and energy/resources from working on the real challenges that require attention.
It also introduce so many problems and challenges you need to deal with (security, privacy ,technical issues, and more) due to the fact you must become “cloud” because this is what the industry is saying…
When people ask me “don’t you believe in the cloud?” I usually say there is nothing to believe in, it is just a nice term for hosting and cloud based apps are just nice term for SaaS/ASP both exists and valid for the kind of usages they always enabled which are non-core fairly simplistic applications for individual and businesses.
Do I see the need to transform on premise solutions to “cloud” ? my answer here also would be a big NO, as I believe that IT capabilities in today’s world which will be greater in tomorrow’s world is a competitive advantage in any industry therefore should be close as much as possible. Do I believe developing, managing and maintaining software should be easier, faster and chipper? big YES but you don’t need cloud for that.
I would love to hear your point of view and maybe you could show me aspects I missed.