Cloud computing – It seems like we hear that term every time a business technology news item, commercial, or seminar pops up. Cloud computing has become one of the most frequently mentioned but rarely understood new technology terms to come our way in recent times. Despite the widespread use of the phrase, cloud computing lacks a universally agreed upon definition, or a water-tight understanding among IT business customers. In fact, even some of IT world’s most famous technology visionaries seem to be at a loss for an accurate definition of cloud computing.
While answering a question regarding cloud computing, Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison responded: “I have no idea what anyone is talking about, it’s really just complete gibberish. What is it? When is this idiocy going to stop?”
A recent survey discovered that two-thirds of business owners and just under half of IT professionals admit that they don’t know what cloud computing is. Of the respondents that claimed to understand what cloud computing is, there was disagreement as to what it encompasses. Some assumed it is simply another name for internet-based delivery. While a few believe it is a combination of internet-based computing, software as a service, on-demand software, outsourced or managed service, and a hosted software service.
So ‘The cloud’ is not a new idea. The confusion seems to come from the technology industry’s love affair with buzzwords – look at the last paragraph and you’ll get your minimum daily allowance of jargon. Some believe, me included, that there is a concerted effort to create a warm and fuzzy marketing term with which most buyers can identify. Marketing types believe cloud computing implies vision, and that business software, systems, and storage leverage the infinite scale of the Internet, and ultimately reside in an almost make believe place known as ‘the cloud’. ‘The cloud’ is a less threatening term when compared to predecessor phrases such as Application Service Provider (ASP), On-Demand Application Delivery, or even Software as a Service (SaaS).
Technology firms have adopted and are leveraging the cloud computing storyline in a generalized effort to include almost every online, subscription-based, or Internet delivered service. Some technology firms are simply rebranding existing products, or embellishing ‘the cloud’ to overlap existing IT products. According to Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett, technology firms are attempting to draft ‘the cloud’ for self promotion. Gillett calls this process “cloud washing.”
So are the loosely fitting technologies that make up cloud computing in your business’ future? Yes, there are likely combinations of the various pieces that make up the term ‘cloud computing’ your business can use today or in the future to make your business more productive and workers happier. I spend a good part of my day however, helping business owners cut through all the clutter – and there is a lot of clutter. Ideally, when your business has the right mix of ‘cloud based’ technology, operating your business will make you feel like you are on ‘Cloud Nine’.