My brief post ended:
As you can see, the rise and rise of Cloud Computing, for all that it stumbled at the end of last year, has in 2010 resumed its giddy trajectory. The next question, naturally, is: why?
Anyone who looks at the technology landscape for a living as I am privileged to do knows that the following is true: Every new technology wave is
- Like all other technology waves
- Like some other technology waves
- Like no other technology wave
Let me show just how true this is of Cloud Computing.
Cloud Computing is Like All Other Technology Waves
The genesis of the actual term "cloud computing" is slightly fuzzy, just like the genesis of "Java" OR "SOA" OR "blogging" - somehow one difference between Internet technologies and, say, pharmaceuticals is that there's always a collectiveness about Internet innovation, even down to the naming process.
Cloud Computing is Like Some Other Technology Waves
Cloud Computing has achieved massive press attention just like "Web 2.0" and it has experienced rapid and mushrooming adoption just like Java.
Cloud Computing is Like No Other Technology Wave
This is where is starts to get really interesting. Since the inception of the Internet in 1973 (or ARPANET as it was then still called), there has never been a technology approach that had everything going for it all at once: the right name, the right technology, and the right timing.
The right timing part is easy to see: what better time, in the past 37 years, for an Internet-based technology capable of driving down CapEx, than in the immediate aftermath of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression? What better time for an approach requiring storage at commodity rates, what better time for an approach requiring widespread broadband connections, what better time for a technology approach that disrupts the enterprise IT 'priesthood' and puts IT squarely back in the possession of the business? It is truly the Perfect Storm.
Cloud Computing is demonstrably the right technology because everyone who has pioneered it has become astonishingly successful:
- Think Salesforce.com, which since 1999 has attracted 55,400 customers and over 1,500,000 subscribers, acting as the pathfinder for the business success of highly scalable applications delivered over the Internet.
- Think Amazon, which in 2006 kick-started the popularization of the whole idea when it introduced first its Simple Storage Service (S3), offering storage for the Internet, and then its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) - a companion product to S3 designed to provide "resizable compute capacity in the cloud."
- Think Google, which introduced Google Apps For Your Domain - also in '06 - and which hasn't stopped innovating in the cloud since.
As for the right name, what more need be said than that Cloud Computing has caught on in a way that "Grid Computing" or "Utility Computing" or "Elastic Computing" never did?
As a metaphor is sums up perfectly the spirit of compute capacity that can be set up and torn down programatically, leaving someone else to take care of the networking and hardware.
However there's no doubt that "Cloud fatigue" is in danger of setting in as almost every existing suite of software becomes not re-engineered but merely re-branded, and give the magic C-word. Which is why my own preference is now to move to a slightly more nuanced metaphor, that of the "Resource Cloud."
Pioneered by Abiquo, whose CEO Pete Malcolm is an undisputed technology thought leader, the concept of Resource Cloud nicely encapsulates the complete separation of the physical infrastructure that provides the computing resources from the enterprises which consume them in the form of compute power, storage, or whatever other service they might choose.
This notion of a "Resource Cloud" in which providers of resources and consumers who use compute power are matched up is very powerful precisely because it is very simple. And because it injects a crucial missing ingredient into the "Cloud" metaphor: meaning.
Not everyone will immediately grasp that the providers and the enterprises who are being matched up in the Resource Cloud will need some kind of policy-driven workload management to interconnect the two; but that doesn't matter, because for me what the term "Resource Cloud" does is to immediately explain itself in a way that "The Cloud" or "Cloud Computing" doesn't.
It's time we all understood about the Resource Cloud. In my opinion, 2010 is the year in which we will.