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Roger Strukhoff

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Cloud: I Like Renting a Piece of Cyberspace

Writers and Surveys Say the Weirdest Things, Most of Them Wrong

I read a story by one respected writer who said that "cloud computing" will equal "computing" within five years. A day later, I saw a story by another respected writer who said that cloudwashing and a lack of standards means that most enterprises don't yet even had a cloud-computing strategy, let alone deployment.

These statements can't both be true; I think neither of them are.

Then there's a recent survey commissioned by Citrix in which 51% of respondents in the US thought that bad weather could disrupt cloud computing. I suppose that's literally true, if a bad storm keeps people from coming to work.

More hopeful - and more accurate, I think - are survey results released from The Future of Cloud, a group backed by venture capitalist Michael Skok, which find that 82% of enterprises are using SaaS and 75% say they'll be building apps via PaaS within five years.

That software-as-a-service number may still be driven by a lot of email and/or collaboration rather than more complex application, but it shows that enterprise IT managers are savvy about cloud computing, or at least think they're savvy in using the term.

The perceived lack of standards comes from the VMware vs. The World competition, with the separate open-source stacks competition within that. I don't see this as an impediment, as there's been a lack of standards - aka competing platforms - in this industry since its inception. The ostensible concern is a concern about vendor lock-in, and the lack of interoperability among the cloud stacks.

Pro tip: said interoperability will never happen - even if some smart people are trying to make it happen - and concern about this is just a stalling tactic. Cloud computing is still new and most enterprise shops will proceed cautiously, if not show outright defiance against it.

The cloudwashing issue doesn't bother me as much as it does some people, although I know I would be terribly annoyed by it if I worked for a company that smashes into Oracle and other big-iron vendors every day. I will be proven wrong on this if, ultimately, innovation is killed off by old wine in new bottles.

I also saw a tweet the other day by someone who questioned how many cloud analysts/pundits/etc. have fired up cloud instances on their own. I have.

I'm involved in a few projects in which cloud is present, one as a simple thin-client user, one instance (so to speak) of PaaS, and two others where we're working to stage our stuff via IaaS. It's damned difficult work, but something that simply wasn't possible a few years ago. I like renting pieces of cyberspace rather than scrounging for the capital to buy it.

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.