Changing the delivery of IT

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Cloud is Bigger Than the Internet - II

Nothing Changes Everything, But This Changes a Lot of Things

Penicillin, Post-It Notes, and Viagra were all semi-accidental discoveriers. The researchers weren't necessarily looking for these market-busting products when they were monkeying around in their labs.

The Web was introduced in similar fashion. But additionally, legions of very smart people had been discussing hypertext and hyperlinks for years before the Web came into being. Its realization certainly kicked off a new era of dot-com innovation. But the dot-com crash illustrated that the Web itself didn't really give us a new paradigm--it just made communications a lot more convenient, while also spawning endless amounts of trivial chattering.

And its inventor will be the first to admit he stands on the shoulders of many, and he didn't expect his clever invention to crystallize with the Internet and provide the greatest IT story of the past two decades.

The Internet itself was a government operation. No more need to be said about whether it was one of history's great inventions.

Ironically, it was designed in a hugely decentralized fashion to protect against something that never happened (a large-scale nuclear attack), yet which has proven limited in its ability to handle what has happened (magnitudes upon magnitudes of increased network traffic).

Do we have a "father" (or mother) of Cloud Computing? Probably not. The topic has been discussed for awhile, and seems to represent a convergence of recent thought about software provisioning, server consolidation, frustration over long deployment times, and the usual drone of budgetary concerns.

But as Cloud is adopted, it will be historically clear that we have finally caught up to where electricity was in the late 19th century. To be sure, there will be standardization issues and disputes, failures, mass confusion (never underestimate the power of FUD), and buyer's remorse along the way.

But just as "the current wars" in Edison's time over whether to adopt AC or DC seem quaint and amusing to us today, the initial cloud-v-cloud skirmishes over the next several years will seem quaint a century from now.

It's a done deal. Cloud is the way of the future. For the first time since computing resources started to be managed by customers in the 1950s, Cloud places this responsibility back on the shoulders of utility providers.

Sure, pesky things such as application development, deployment strategy, capacity planning (which will become much more sophisticated once people realize they can micromanage this), and knowing exactly what you are trying to do with your IT will remain in the hands of the business.

And it is here where Cloud becomes most profound. Electricity doesn't enable a company to do anything. Computing resources do.

Farming out your IT functionality means you can now focus on making all the great brains in your company--and brains are not computers, never have been, never will be--spend their time inventing the future, rather than hassling with problems of the present.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.