Friday, May 29, 2009

Can We Talk About Cloud Computing as Rational Adults?

I participate on a lot of seminars. A year or two ago I was doing seminar on wide area networking and part of my presentation included a discussion of some emerging trends that would impact the WAN. One of the trends that I mentioned in my presentation was Services Oriented Architectures (SOA). One of the other panelists was the VP of marketing for a mid sized WAN service provider. He loved the fact that I talked about SOA and its impact on the WAN and encouraged me to spend a lot more time on that topic in order to “really hype the impact of SOA”. I tried to politely decline saying that I was not sure that SOA would have that much of an impact in the short term and I did not want to over-hype it. This thoroughly confused the VP of marketing who in a loud voice repeatedly tried to convince me that “it is impossible to over hype a technology”.

My feelings are just the opposite. I strongly believe that not only is it possible to over hype a technology but that over hyping a technology is the normal mode of operation in our industry. The problem as I see it is that some marketers really believe that IT organizations make decisions based on PowerPoint slides, analyst reports, and general hysteria. Having run networking groups in two Fortune 500 companies I can say that in my experience IT organizations make decisions based on facts.

That brings me to cloud computing. Before I go on, I want to emphasize that I am somewhat bullish on the potential of cloud computing. I am not going to use this blog to bash cloud computing. I am, however, going to use this blog to bash the zealous over hyping of cloud computing. I just finished a phone call with a VP at a company that offers cloud computing services. I was hoping to discuss with him what IT organizations need in their own environment as well as from their service providers in order to realize the potential benefits of cloud computing. Instead of an intelligent discussion, all that I got was hype. According to the person that I was talking with, there are no fundamental impediments to cloud computing and IT organizations are really anxious to use cloud computing services because of their supposed revulsion to ever buying another server.

As I stated, I am somewhat bullish on the potential of cloud computing. However, I think that IT organizations will realize that potential a lot sooner if we can talk about cloud computing as rational adults. In particular, we need to have an intelligent discussion about what has to be in place for IT organizations to make a very fundamental shift in terms of how they offer services. I tried to explain to the gentleman that I was talking to today, that IT organizations do not make fundamental shifts in a matter of months. He didn’t understand the concept.

OK, it is 5:00 somewhere. I am gong to get a glass of wine and go into the pool. Yes, I will look up at the clouds as I sip (gulp?) my chardonnay.

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