What it means to be a cloud pioneer

A list of those who started the cloud movement reminds us that dogged believers paved the way for the cloud we know today

Last week, I had the privilege of being included in the InfomationWeek list of early cloud pioneers. Though I'm clearly biased, it's a great list that covers an extensive group of early cloud thought leaders such as Reuven Cohen, James Urquhart, Michael Crandell, and John Keagy. The lineup builds on another list InformationWeek put out a few months ago of other cloud pioneers, including Randy Bias (a former colleague at Grand Central) and Werner Vogels.

Of course, any success that I've had I owe to other people as well. For example, Eric Knorr, the editor in chief of InfoWorld, was tracking cloud computing back in 2004. When I was the CTO of Grand Central (one of the first public clouds), Knorr invited me into the InfoWorld offices many times to discuss this emerging technology and later gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you in this column.

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Also, there are Peter Mell and Tim Grance, the authors of the NIST definition of cloud computing. I got a chance to work with both of them a few years back and found that their work grounded many of the cloud computing technology concepts emerging at the time, including frameworks of understanding that are in wide use today.

Many more people out there have helped form the concept of cloud computing. Although it would be simple if we just had one creator, that's not the case with cloud computing. In many aspects, it's been a collective success story of many people and companies coming together around a single mission: to find better ways to provide computing services to business and government by rethinking traditional approaches.


The true pioneers of cloud computing are those who both defined and promoted the concept before it became popular to do so. Back in 1999, cloud computing was considered so much Internet-driven voodoo. Indeed, many of those who argued with me at the time about the viability of the concept are now selling and promoting cloud computing technology. (I won't name names!) I guess the pioneers get the arrows, while settlers get the farm.

What does it mean to be a pioneer of cloud computing? Or perhaps of any emerging technology? It means a solid belief that both the concept and the application of the new technology greatly improves on traditional approaches. Hopefully, there will continue to be enough pioneers around who drive us to think differently and innovatively.

This article, "What it means to be a cloud pioneer," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.