The Clouds Disappear

By April 1, 2010Uncategorized

I’ve blogged in the past about the “value” being in the “glue” when it comes to the “cloud.” I had a conversation earlier this week about the term “cloud,” and it made me want to clarify my thinking/writing on this a bit. To be fair, I’m not sure my thoughts are fully formed on this (yet), so “clarify” might be too strong a term. Nonetheless…

The “cloud” is everywhere right now. You see it all of the vendors repositioning themselves. You even see it in IBM commercials. I see it in the nearly endless stream of “cloud events” that seem to happen and/or get announced on a daily basis. And yet, even in that context, I think that in 3-5 years, we’ll see the term “cloud computing” fade.

Lots of folks have broken the “cloud” into IaaS (infrastructure), PaaS (platform), and SaaS (software) — and my contention that “cloud computing” fades as a term is NOT meant to say that any of the vendors in these three major chunks won’t be delivering and deriving value from and to the marketplace for years to come. Rather, I think that the technology industry (as it always does) will move on. The cloud will go mainstream. We’ll stop having these silly fights about what is and isn’t, hybrid this, or private cloud that — the mature marketplace will come to be the right tool for the right job, where moving from on premise to the cloud and back simply doesn’t matter anymore.

As that happens, it won’t be about “the cloud” — that will be assumed (ie, the ability to develop for and in the cloud as you wish, and move in and out of “legacy” apps and environments as you wish). That maturity of market offerings will mean that in some senses *everyone* will be a “cloud vendor,” and every project, deployment and app will have cloud components. Thus, the term “cloud computing” will lose the value that it currently holds – that of differentiation (from more traditional environments). And once the value in the term goes, the term itself will fade.

Vendors will turn to the real differentiators; not that they’re “cloud,” but that they’re governance, or management, or scaling, or pick your niche.

What we’re really in the process of building is a new class of developers. Developers that feel just as comfortable building enterprise applications as integrating activity streams into a social application. Developers that are comfortable moving back and forth (in and out of the cloud) precisely because the technology will get to a point where it won’t matter.

What will matter – whether in IaaS, PaaS or SaaS – is that developers (and sys admins) can build, provision, secure, scale, govern, comply and deploy the applications they’re working on. Furthermore, the *real* differentiation will lie in the fact that the “cloud computing” movement ultimately will produce an enterprise IT environment that resembles the web…i.e., a truly networked, interoperable ecosystem of business applications that run in a distributed environment — not simply at the infrastructure level, but at the business level as well.

Not that this will all be easy, or simple, or happen without major screw-ups — that’s what the next 5 -7 years will hold.

But we can get there. We’ll get there as the vendors stop “making the pitch” to the “c-level” and start building infrastructure, platforms and tools that help developers and administrators do their job more efficiently. That is why the “cloud” will disappear. Because we just won’t need the term anymore.

So, buckle up — we’ll get to watch a ton of upheaval, and we’ll even get to see “cloud computing” events crash and burn. Well, at least, those that aren’t focused on developers. 😉

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