A Cloud By Any Other Name Would Still be IT

Written on:August 18, 2010
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Cloud computing as a term is misplaced, problematic and unhelpful. Contentious words? Perhaps, but read on. Over the past 12 months or so, I’ve been running CloudCamp unconferences all around Australia and New Zealand. As these events are unconferences, with no set agenda, registrants come along with their own perspectives and ideas for the sort of conversations they’re interested in hearing.

We’ve had people along looking for software-as-a-service applications to meet their particular requirement, developers looking to create applications on a platform-as-a-service, and  dyed-in-the-wool infrastructure people who want to talk about load balancing, disaster recovery and multiple redundancies. All these varied interests share little in common with each other, leading me to wonder whether the only common denominator is the word cloud. The term “cloud” or “cloud computing” can cover a huge variety of things: from customer applications to the millions of Amazon servers spinning away, along with everything in-between. It’s no surprise there’s sometimes a disconnect between people involved in the cloud.

It’s an issue I’ve written about previously, asking whether the time isn’t ripe to ease off on the whole “cloud” term. Back in March, at the Cloud Connect event in San Jose, IBM’s Ric Telford said something quite prescient:

[In] five years time, cloud will be the new normal.

I agree with this contention, though it may sound funny coming from someone who blogs about the cloud, runs cloud events and attends pretty much every cloud-focused conference. While I think the term cloud still has legs, I believe its days are numbered. When we’re all doing cloud, and there’s simply nothing else, the term will fade into our collective memories.

Sure, at the moment, when it feels like we cloud proponents are still seen as a bunch of renegades setting out to displace the status quo, we need some term that we can all identify with: something descriptive we can hang our hats on. However, we’re rapidly moving away from the need to fight for legitimacy. We’re entering a different world now: one where words like “cloud” mean less and meeting specific needs at varying levels of the IT stack via a services or on-demand model mean more.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): How to Thrive as a Hardware Vendor in a Cloud-Centric World

Ben Kepes is an independent consultant and contributing writer for GigaOM. Please see his disclosure statement in his bio.

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