Hey John C. Dvorak, you're a bit behind on the cloud

Internet-based delays in cloud-delivered apps can occur, but saying that this means the whole cloud concept is bad misses the reality of what the cloud is

You've got to love John C. Dvorak, the host of the Cranky Geeks podcast and columnist for PC Magazine (for which I used to write as well). I've found John to be typically spot-on when it comes to technology analysis. That said, I figured I would make sure to enlighten him, just a bit, on his recent column entitled "Hey Microsoft, get out of the cloud."

John wrote, "But the cloud stinks. Its applications have always been much slower than their desktop counterparts. Try to get to the end cell of a large cloud-based shreadsheet. You'll long for the desktop version. The whole process is exacerbated by the speed of the Internet. The Internet is also unreliable. A couple of weeks ago, I was down for two hours. A month ago, I lost my connection for 20-plus hours."

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John further complains that you're at the mercy of the cloud computing provider, and that it can deny you service at any time. However, he does talk about the potential use of cloud computing to make traditional enterprise IT less expensive.

As I explained last week, there are indeed systemic performance issues with any cloud provider that support an application through a browser. In that sense John is correct that most cloud providers, no matter how big the pipe and how fast their servers, won't be able to operate as fast as native software, at least from the user interface.

However, that's only one type of cloud computing: software as a service (SaaS). Other types, such as infrastructure as a service and platform as a service, typically operate decoupled from the client. Thus, they are not affected by the back-and-forth chatter of the browser with the server, and they may operate with a vastly higher number of server instances than you have within your data center. This means their performance and scalability, especially when compared with cost-per-cycle of traditional on-premise solutions, is much more impressive.

Make sure you keep that in mind, John.

This article, "Hey John C. Dvorak, you're a bit behind on the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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