Sun was right, the computer is the network. Rather the computer is the Internet, if we believe all of the major Internet players and vendors racing across the plains to stake their claim for the next big gold nugget. Has any body heard this before? It hits me like “deja vu” all over again. I have been to this movie before as Saas, Utility Computing, ASP….TimeSharing, etc. (ugh). It is really sad when one of the players tries to trademark “cloud” (Dell).
All that being said, the goal is the Holy Grail of both the bedraggled CIO and the proud IT industry. If Cloud Computing works as envisioned, it would revolutionize application development, deployment, support, and back-up/recovery. The current installed-base of PCs would become mere appliances, distributed data centers could be consolidated, software could be designed and maintained at the application level of granularity. Development platforms, like Microsoft’s Oslo, would allow visual editing and mashing of entire applications residing in the Internet/Cloud, in whole or parts. Gone is worrying about software stacks, hardware, bandwidth, security, and back-up. I am in Nirvana, floating on a Cloud (bad pun).
Stepping back from the precipice of sarcasm, there is merit to the concept, approached with a jaundiced eye. Applications, regardless of industry or user, begin as ideas and unfortunately are easily lost amid the grinding detail of instantiation in software, hardware and bandwidth. Even the early Cloud platforms provide an opportunity to experiment quickly with innovative ideas. In a past life a venture capitalist told me; “If I could just complete my bad concepts quickly, I could make a fortune on my one good idea of fourteen!”. Well, the Cloud would do it, platform, QA, and customers all in one. As a mere CIO, I could see it as an effective platform for fast geographically distributed, collaborative development or for quick one-off applications (to be brought in-house if proven).
It will be interesting to see this trend move forward and it is certainly worthy of our R&D effort, in any case, because the pay-back is so compelling. Plus, who knows, maybe Sun was right.