Romanticizing cloud computing will destroy it

InfoWorld's new cloud computing blog seeks to promote a clear-eyed definition so the sustainable cloud can form

6,480,000. That's the number of results from a Google search for "cloud computing."

Searching for "software as a service" returns 4,260,000. "Grid computing," 2,840,000. "Application service provider," 969,000. Remember those guys? We've been through this before.

[ Get past the hype. Find out what cloud computing really is, and what it isn't, in InfoWorld's definitive guide. ]

George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I hate to break it to you, but cloud computing is not going to cure everything from datacenter sprawl to diminishing budgets.

cloud /klowd/ n. & v. n. 1 a visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere high above the general level of the ground.

cloud computing /klowd kompyŏŏting/ n. 1 the most ill-defined technology in history.

Is it process management? Is it resource management? Is it something I host for my customers in my enterprise datacenter? Is it something hosted for my enterprise in a datacenter I never lay eyes on? Does it help the environment? Does it create massive carbon footprints the likes of which the technology world has never seen? I don't care if you're a fan or not, I'm sure you'll agree we need a clear, concise definition.

Eric Knorr, InfoWorld's editor-in-chief, has raised this flag several times in his blog, and he has gone so far as to offer the industry a standard definition: "the use of commercial computing services, including software-as-a-service applications, delivered over the Internet."

That's a good start, but I think I hear something ... oh yeah; it's the ghost of technologies past, moaning about ASPs and SaaS providers.

It doesn't really matter who defines it, or even what the actual definition is, sadly. What matters is whether or not the community can get together, collaborate on a definition, and support that definition. That's the difference between cloud computing becoming our next tour de force or another contribution to our local landfills.

Continuing to romanticize cloud computing as the next magic bullet will pretty much guarantee its demise. We need a short, sweet, Windex-clear definition to take this buzzword from cotton candy to New York cheesecake.

So where does that leave this blog? InfoWorld gives me a platform from which I can help define the technology, among other things, and that's just what I intend to do. I'm not going to fluff you. I'm not starry-eyed. Half of my normal readers think I'm a mouthpiece from technology heaven, and the other half think I'm Satan’s butler.

Either way, if you're interested in participating in an effort to unite the cloud computing community, bookmark this blog now or subscribe to the RSS feed. Let's see if we can add some tangibility to this baby, something concrete.

Let's start with an Apache-style vote: add a +1 in your comment if you agree with Eric, and add a -1 if you don't then grace us with your definition.


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