Cloud skeptics are right to be wary, but not dismissive

All the cloud hype justifies criticisms that cloud computing is the latest technology hot air, but under the hype is pragmatic value

I enjoyed Matt Prigge's latest post, "Confessions of a cloud skeptic," and its honest look at the essence of cloud computing. As Prigge puts it: "Frankly, I've never seen what all the fuss is about. When I first started hearing rumblings about cloud infrastructure a few years ago, I actually thought I might have missed some huge technological development. It didn't take me long to figure out that at a very basic level, cloud infrastructure isn't new at all. It's the marketing and spin that's new."

I have a tendency to agree with Prigge and others who have called the hype around cloud computing into question. It's clearly an overheated space right now, and many organizations are moving into cloud computing because of the hype, not for business and technology requirements. That's dangerous. 

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The trouble is that most of what is said about cloud computing today comes from marketing departments and not thought leaders.

That said, there is true value within cloud computing. You just have to understand what's truly innovative and unique about it, and what's just "cloudwashing." For example, as Prigge points out, we've been doing large-scale storage and compute for many years now within enterprises. So what's truly innovative around cloud computing? Plenty.

They way I see it, cloud computing is the ability to use core infrastructure services, such as storage and compute, over the Internet as true components of architecture in highly scalable and elastic ways. Storage and compute is nothing new, but the the model for consuming those types of services is new and innovative. Thus, the value is the concept of using these architectural components from an outside source, and paying for only the services you use. Moreover, there's value from the cloud's on-demand provisioning, multitenant access to resources, and economies of scale.

A core value of cloud computing is speed to deployment, or the ability to get applications, storage, and compute services up and running quickly in support of the business. That leads to the value of agility, or the ability to adjust your IT quickly to support changes in the business. Another core value is the ability to shift capital away from IT and use it for more important things, such as running the core business.

Prigge's skepticism is well placed, when you consider the marketing hype around cloud computing. We all need to focus more on what's important. Indeed I wish there were more cloud skeptics out there, and I think it's healthy to have those discussions now.

That said, when the hype finally clears, we'll begin the see the true value of the cloud. That value is much more practical and limited than today's hype would lead you to believe, but it is real. I'm not a cloud skeptic, I'm a cloud pragmatist.

This article, "Cloud skeptics are right to be wary, but not dismissive," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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