The cloud does a lot for enterprises: It saves them money, provides agility, and even makes for a greener planet.
Cloud computing's effect on energy usage is good. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the use of cloud services has essentially nullified the growth in energy usage from data centers, reducing the pollution and other environmental costs of our modern digital activities.
This news is no surprise to me. I've argued with my green friends that cloud computing ultimately means more efficient use of computing resources, and thus reduced overall usage of energy. They railed for years against the construction of new data centers to support cloud services, but now they can see that building phase was a good thing. We replaced acres of private data centers that really suck up the kilowatts but that were so widely scattered that their impact on energy needs were hidden.
But the cloud is much more than just an energy saver. Its real benefit to IT is to get the hell out of the hardware and software acquisition game. Now you can just pull an API call or go to a console to get the machines that you need. It's a game changer for me as a developer, not having to deal with that acquisition cycle.
All this good news around cloud technology could lead to a "the cloud solves all problems" mentality. But guess what? No technology is flawless, and the use of cloud-based resources is no exception.
Even though I am a cloud advocate, I've become a realist when it comes to the use of cloud. I often find myself talking about what cloud-based systems can't do, not just what they can. Some workloads will never be a good fit for the cloud, and that means sometimes traditional, on-premises systems remain a better choice.
The goal is not to replace data centers with the cloud. The goal is to build better, more effective IT systems. The cloud is often a great venue for achieving that goal, but no single technology or approach is always the answer.
So as we celebrate all the good the cloud brings, let's not forget that there are other good tools we should use when they're the better fit.