About two years ago, I suggested the cloud had jumped the shark -- not in the sense it had ceased to become an important part of the future of IT, but that the hype surrounding it had reached such a fever pitch that what it means to be "in the cloud" had almost become meaningless. I've been surprised to find that the hype has not died down.
If anything, the fact that cloudy infrastructures haven't experienced the worst of the gloom and doom that initial cloud detractors spread has piqued interest in cloud-based technologies. However, as in the past, nailing down exactly what the cloud is and, more important, how best to leverage its benefits is still challenging for many people.
[ Stay on top of the current state of the cloud with InfoWorld's special report, "Cloud computing in 2012." Download it today! | Also check out our "Private Cloud Deep Dive," our "Cloud Security Deep Dive," our "Cloud Storage Deep Dive," and our "Cloud Services Deep Dive." ]
In discussing the cloud with clients and colleagues alike, I've found it's helpful to look at the full range of cloud-based services available in the marketplace today as a collection of tools that add to -- not replace -- the on-premise IT toolbox you may already have. I put a great deal of emphasis on selecting the right tools for the job, and looking at the cloud is no exception. Of course, selecting the right tool requires that you have a specific job in mind. Otherwise, you risk putting the cart before the horse in an attempt to bend a problem to fit the solution -- a situation that rarely ends well.
Although I believe the cloud is overhyped, there's no denying the range of cloud offerings available in the marketplace today have amazing capabilities. Tremendous scalability, elasticity, and always-on connectivity coupled with pay-as-you-go pricing are only a few of the benefits you can reap. However, not every IT challenge can effectively take advantage of those benefits. But some can.