Déjà vu for IT: The cloud wave mirrors the PC wave

25 years ago, many companies pushed back against the PC, citing security and performance concerns -- sound familiar?

As I'm in cloud computing meetings a lot these days, I'm feeling a bit of déjà vu: There are parallels to how we think about cloud computing today and how we thought about PCs in the early 1980s.

I cut my computing teeth on PCs, which were considered a hobbyist device at the time. However, as I built and programmed them, it was easy to see their potential. But my college did not use PCs, nor did my employer (I worked in a data center on the weekends). Although some people such as myself saw the value of the PC, corporate America clearly did not.

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The most surprising thing to me was when I was looking for my first "real" job, I saw "No PC jobs" in the want ads. I was told several times by prospective employers that they considered PCs to be security risks, and they believed PCs did not provide the performance required or have a place in modern computing. One guy would not even allow them in the building.

At the same time, the hype behind the PC was huge, dominating much of the tech press. In some regards, these prospective employers were pushing back on the hype -- or they did not yet understand the potential.

The emergence of cloud computing follows a familiar pattern. Many enterprises believe the cloud lacks the security and performance they require. They are pushing back on the hype, and I've met a few people who won't allow any of their storage and compute functions to run off-premises.

I suspect the adoption pattern of cloud computing will be very much like that of the PC. There will be those that give it a try, considering the hype surround this technology, and once proven, they will take a stepwise approach to increasing its use. Also, there will be those forced to use cloud computing despite their personal feelings, pushed into it by the success of others. Still others will simply go with the flow; ultimately, you can't argue with momentum.

Cloud computing, like the PC, is not a revolution around any particular concept. It's an evolution in how we think about computing, with different and more efficient ways to do the same things done now.

I bet all of those guys that pushed back on PCs back then use them now.

This article, "Déjà vu for IT: The cloud wave mirrors the PC wave," 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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