Wednesday, February 3, 2010

'Forbes' rebuttal: don’t abolish cloud computing, just swap jargon for what customers really want

I’m guessing that Lee Gomes’ article on this week was intended to provoke a strong reaction. The title said it all: “Abolish cloud computing!” If so, he got me.

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but feel that he was missing the point. So, I crafted a quick response and dashed it off to him in an e-mail. To Lee’s credit, he was interested in the dialog, and thought his readers would be, too.

So, at Lee’s request, I polished up that e-mail a bit and two days after I saw a Forbes headline saying “Abolish cloud computing,” they ran my rebuttal to “save cloud computing.” Everyone loves a good debate, right?

Definitely read Lee’s original article and my response, but I’ll summarize it for you here since the main points were pretty straightforward. The industry has struggled mightily with the definition of cloud computing over the past 12 months (or longer). And grand pronouncements have inevitably followed. Public clouds are the future. Or not. Private clouds don’t exist. Or are really important for large companies.

This back and forth has led to a lot of confusion and some folks have even thrown in the towel. But I don’t think we should.

Lee’s analysis assumed that cloud computing was essentially the same concept as simply running something “over the Internet.” If that’s the case, then I agree with Lee – cloud computing is not worth all the chatter.

However, I don’t think that’s the case. As I mentioned in my rebuttal, “I think the aspects that make ‘cloud computing’ something IT shops should consider in the first place make it worth having its own term.”

Some of the special characteristics I point to are ones I’ve talked about here on this blog before (and supports the definitions from pundits, analysts, and even the NIST): elasticity from pooled resources, pay-as-you-go, and automation to enable on-demand self-service.

Big difference from just doing things "over the Internet" in my book.

So, take a look at the articles and comment at (or right here). I especially like the comment at Forbes emphasizing the need to be very clear what you’re talking about when parading around new terms like cloud computing.

And thanks to Lee and Forbes for the chance to make my point.

(Update 2/4: David Linthicum weighed in with his thoughts on Lee's article in his Infoworld cloud computing column today, asking "Is 'cloud computing' hurting cloud computing?" Also worth a read. In an industry arguing about definitions, his headline says it all.)

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