Blog Post

A Cloud By Any Other Name Would Still be IT

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 (s IBM) 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.

3 Responses to “A Cloud By Any Other Name Would Still be IT”

  1. I guess I don’t see the point of this article. There’s no definition of cloud. There’s no particular interesting hook. You say the term is misplaced yet you don’t define it or explain why it’s misplaced. You go on to tell us how you run “cloud” related events and write cloud articles.

    So what exactly were you trying to convey with this article?

  2. I agree that the term is being abused, and I see it now used by less tech savvy media to generate search hits and page hits.

    I think that being “awed” by cloud potential is not how we help it evolve. When someone tells me that they store their photo albums “on the cloud instead of a harddrive” I just want to walk away.

  3. Snoozer

    This blog post was a real snoozer. What’s so hard to accept that “cloud” is an effective and meaningful meme for many people (even if it means different things to different people)? Why not just go with the flow and let people be human? If Ric Telford’ prediction. Is right five years from now, will he win a prize of some sort,mother than to be able to brag at parties and say “I told you so”? Who is Ric Telford anyway? Just because he works for IBM does this make him an authority that everyone must or should pay their attention cycles to? How will you and he compensate we readers for the time and attention we gave to read this blog post, considering it’s lack of insight or educational value? This is why we need news organizations to succeed with editorial review process (this post strikes me as filler, especially considering the theme of this blog).