Cloud Computing: Future or Farce?

The search for truth amidst rumors and buzzwords

I never believed in Santa Claus. This revelation shocks most everyone who hears it. I have to look into the concerned, slightly teary eyes of the person I'm talking with and confirm that I never made cookies for an old, fictitious man in anticipation of his breaking and entering to give me material goods for doing exactly what I was supposed to do anyway: behave. But I turned out just fine—albeit a little cynical. And as I read the Windows IT Pro network coverage about cloud computing, I’m beginning to suspect that the reasons behind the cloud computing rage may be just as fictitious as ol’ Saint Nick.

In a May 25 blog post on the SuperSite for Windows, Paul Thurrott describes cloud computing as “obtaining computing resources—processing, storage, messaging, databases and so on—from someplace outside your own four walls, and paying only for what you use.” And in the August 2008 web-exclusive article “Gartner: Cloud Computing Is Reshaping IT” (InstantDoc ID 100115), Paul further touts the potential of cloud computing, stating, “In many ways Gartner is just waking up to what much of the IT world has understood for years: Cloud computing is real, it's happening now, and it will transform IT.”

But just as I start to believe, I see comments from readers that put a raincloud over my head. Commenting on Paul’s May blog post, reader Suraky said that cloud computing is “just another meaningless buzzword.” And in response to the August web-exclusive article, Bruce Arnold commented, “The only true cloud computing takes place in aircraft. What they’re actually referring to by ‘the cloud’ is a large-scale and often remotely located and managed computing platform. We have had those since the dawn of electronic IT.” He goes on to say that any journalist making a buzz out of cloud computing is wasting time. (Hopefully this counts as more of a rumble.)

In my search for better understanding, I turn to Executive Editor Amy Eisenberg. In her blog post “TechEd in the Cloud” (InstantDoc ID 99433), Amy expresses her initial feeling of déjà vu: “While the name might be new, the concept is not. The basic idea is Internet software delivery. Can you say hosted services?” She goes on to say that she’s warmed up to cloud computing because “times have changed.” So help me through this haze called cloud computing: Is it worth believing in or is it just an old, dressed-up uncle trying to fool everyone?

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