Beware the dumb and dangerous ideas creeping into the cloud

Cloud computing is a booming business, and stupid ideas are back

Beware the dumb and dangerous ideas creeping into the cloud

Remember the last technology bubble? It left many investors poorer, with enterprises and technology providers scratching their heads as to what went wrong.

While the investors and entrepreneurs could simply move on to the next venture, many enterprises were stuck with dead technology that cost a great deal to replace. Lesson learned? Not really. Sixteen years later, history seems to be repeating itself around cloud computing.

Why is this happening? Funding is plentiful right now, and VCs are willing to take risks rather than keep their investors' money out of play. Thus, companies with a cloud technology idea that should really not be funded will get funding.

Funding has a few meanings. First, the companies can build their technology, which is good for them. Second, they can sell their technology via salespeople and marketing machines. The latter concerns me. In many cases, these are dumb ideas that unfortunately sound like good ideas to some enterprises. Here we go again.

One example is cloud security -- particularly, startups that promote a single type of security model driven by a single tool. Security is really a model or an approach, not a single technology. Cloud security is systemic and made up of many tools. Moreover, it needs to span both systems in the cloud and in traditional enterprise systems.

Yet enterprises sit up and take notice when a vendor shows up with a single “killer” monolithic cloud security "solution." They should remember the old adage: "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

Another dubious product play that I often see are those based on machine learning. Although there is a great deal of value here, startups overapply the concept. Examples of dumb applications include storage and compute resource management, both of which you would rather not have your resource management system plotting behind your back. In other worlds, relatively simple concepts are made overly complex by misapplying machine learning.

Ironically, few to none of the technology companies with dumb ideas will think I’m writing about them. They’ve drunk their own Kool-Aid, which makes their product pitches even more persuasive in the boardroom.

But I'm writing to you in the enterprises, and my message is this: Beware. The dumb ideas are targeting you and your executives. In a few years, today's dumb ideas will be obviously dumb. Today, however, they have a window of plausibility -- so dig a little deeper into new cloud products' claims before you sign on the dotted line.