Is the Cloud a Bubble?

We say "no" and so does Google, Amazon and others. We describe cloud computing as the future and are building tools to access data in the cloud (see Ray Ozzie in the MIX08 keynote). Collectively, there are lots and lots of data centers built and in progress to prove resolve in this arena.

The concept of hosting applications in the sky is as old as the first dot-com bubble (circa 1997-2000), when Application Service Providers made a valiant stand to build a business model to compete with self-hosted software. Besides lacking a reproducible way to do customizations and a tendency to over- or under-build their data centers, many of these companies didn’t have the financial legs to survive the customer learning curve; acquiring and retaining customers took time.

Most detrimentally, these companies lacked the trust that their cloud vision would allow their customers to regain control of their data in case of failure .. so the whole thing unraveled.

I was there, btw.

This model is significantly different. Data centers are owned by extremely well-funded entities, support both commodity and specific software components and allow the hosting of customer-generated code.

Today, Cloud Computing allows:

  • Fiscally-conscious VCs the ability to place a larger number of inexpensive bets, without having to deal with the cost and time associated with platform outlays. Further, if they hit a big one, scalability is built into the cloud by default, so no emergency (and time-consuming) build-outs.
  • Small development teams (or an individual) with vision and some coding expertise to host their dream in moments.
  • Businesses of all sizes to outsource commodity (and, for that matter, specialty) applications to reduce IT costs.

The world-flattening Web has leveled the playing field to a point where an online presence of the smallest quilt shop in the Midwest can compete with the Macy’s White Sale. Commodity components like shopping carts, electronic transactions and advanced product display / selection can be dropped into a project to monetize the owner’s vision.

Beyond monetization components, applications can be brought to life with a wide variety of real-world data: your location coupled with proximity to something you might want to buy, traffic or transit (you have to get there somehow) .. even knowing the weather can add value to an application.

All of this goodness is not restricted to the browser. The power of the client (mobile or PC-based) can be harnessed to access data stored in the Cloud, a fundamental basis for our Software Plus Services model. This model can deliver unparalleled user experiences across a variety of devices.

On the Cloud as a bubble; GigaOM disagrees in: "Bursting the Cloud Bubble: 5 Reasons It’s Not Just Hype".

About Michael Coates
I am a pragmatic evangelist. The products, services and solutions I write about fulfill real-world expectations and use cases. I stay up-to-date on real products I use and review, and share my thoughts here. I apply the same lens when designing an architecture, product or when writing papers. I am always looking for ways that technology can create or enhance a business opportunity .. not just technology for technology's sake. My CV says: Seasoned technology executive, leveraging years of experience with enterprise and integration architectural patterns, executed with healthy doses of business acumen and pragmatism. That's me. My web site says: Technology innovations provide a myriad of opportunities for businesses. That said, having the "latest and greatest" for its own sake isn't always a recipe for success. Business successes gained through exploiting innovation relies on analysis of how the new features will enhance your business followed by effective implementation. Goals vary far and wide: streamlining operations, improving customer experience, extending brand, and many more. In all cases, you must identify and collect the metrics you can apply to measure your success. Analysis must be holistic and balanced: business and operational needs must be considered when capitalizing on a new technology asset or opportunity.

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