I was amused when I recently came across a post about “the cloud” on the LinkedIn CIO Network – The Group for CIO’s. The post contained the following question: “Do you think there is too much hype surrounding cloud computing and the term is being misused?” The first thought that came to my mind was a January 1, 2011, Dilbert comic strip that parodies the hype around the cloud. In my fourteen-and-a-half years of working in IT, I have noticed that we IT professionals are suckers for “new terminology” and the repackaging of “old ideas” as if we have never seen or heard of the concept. I came into IT around the time of the Y2K conundrum (Year 2000 problem for the newer folks). During this time, you couldn’t go five seconds without hearing the doom and gloom of January 1, 2000. Eventually, the Y2K bug came to pass, and we realized that the utter chaos surrounding the hype was much worse than the passing event. Regarding the Y2K hype, the same thing can be said of ”the cloud” and “cloud computing.” David Annis, VP Information Technology at Garvin Promotion Group, responds on LinkedIn with the following:
"The cloud is really nothing more than an evolution of what we used to do, and it's definitely not a new concept. In the 1960's and 1970's, we used to lease time from a mainframe owned by either a university or larger company, who controlled the platform and security, in order to run our applications. While certainly the technologies have improved over the years, how exactly is this concept any different than what we did before?”
Early in my career, I saw hosted sites for applications as well as configuration management solutions by Serena that had cloud-like features; they would host your instance on their servers and even administer your CM tools for a fee. To my knowledge, Serena no longer offers this service, which didn’t go over too well for the company either. My point is that we have done this before: Cloud computing is nothing new with the best example being the Internet, which is basically a “cloud” application. The Internet has been around since the early 1980s with its beginnings traced back to the 1960s.
We are now left with the following questions: Is the cloud the future of IT? Are there security concerns with “the cloud?” Has the term been overused and misused? The answer to these three questions is yes, yes, and yes. The future of the cloud is bright due to the economies of scale that can be gained by not hosting your own network; with distributed teams the cloud becomes even more appealing. Regarding legitimate security concerns, typing in “cloud security” in Google returned 647,000,000 results, so I would say this topic is being discussed. When thinking about whether or not the term “the cloud” has been abused and misused, I refer you back to the Dilbert comic, which I think answers this question.
Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.