Thursday, June 9, 2011

Defining The Cloud: You Say Tomato...

I was just reading this article about the current hacker attempts on cloud computing vendors. Interesting topic, for sure, and they touch on some items which I'll be posting about in the future.

But aside from the security discussion, their description of "the cloud" brought me back to a discussion I had with a potential business partner the other day. We were debating what it means to be "in the cloud". Someone had been making a big deal about the fact that Company X was hosting their own SaaS application on their own servers, and that because they weren't using Amazon,, or Google AppEngine to host their product, they shouldn't be able to declare themselves "in the cloud".

So I decided to consult the all-powerful, 100% accurate, ultimate-and-unquestioned authority on all matters in the world: Wikipedia.

(See, I may not be able to speak clearly with my tongue firmly in my cheek, but I can still type properly!!)

The only thing that seems to be consistent is that it simply implies use of remotely-hosted applications. In any case, it certainly does not seem to restrict itself to being only those vendors who leverage "Platform-as-a-Service" (PaaS) resources such as Amazon.

So by this definition, SaaS vendors who host their own product could certainly be "cloud". Wikipedia's definition, even a single-instance-per-customer (non-multi-tenant) application could be "cloud" simply because it is hosted off-premise.

To me, "The Cloud" is clearly still mostly a marketing term. It is trendy and hip to say it, so people use the term as much as they can for anything that smells close. Ultimately, this reduces its value to the point where it has no inherent/direct value by itself.

What's important is describing the value proposition of your solution. That may include the service delivery model, for sure. But the most important concern is to meet a need. For most applications, once the customer realizes they don't have to run the IT infrastructure themselves, there just isn't really a business reason to care deeply about who's logo is on the underlying hardware or what OS they're long as it works...

Disagree? Tell me what you think.

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