Cloud Computing - Is It The Right Phrase?

Cloud Computing - Is It The Right Phrase?

Intel, IBM and Cisco are arguably some of the giants of the IT world. Intel is a pioneer in microprocessor production, IBM is the largest IT manufacturer in the world and Cisco is a worldwide leader in networking. These are three companies who are eagerly watching the development of cloud computing which is critical to their future growth. We know cloud computing is important, but is it a right phrase?

‘Cloud computing’ generates around 300,000 global search each month on Google compared to 30 million searches for Twitter. These searches have been exponentially growing in volume since 2007; however this is still insignificant compared to consumer grade cloud services – Twitter, Flickr and Spotify. It is no surprise then that 48% of IT workers don’t know the meaning of the term.

Cloud computing may become a phrase that is outlived by the services that run on it. Cloud computing is seen as a paradigm shift in that one day it will simply become a business norm and an expected utility cost. Companies will never worry about technical aspects or the cost involved in complex computer resources. Therefore if companies are using web-based CRM systems, Gmail and Microsoft BPOS, then these services are well known, well used and Cloud Computing is a success.

If we view Cloud Computing as a utility then we need to compare it to other utilities. Electricity is a complex system – power is generated through a resource such as gas, coal, nuclear energy, wind, and solar before being transmitted through the National Grid. Here it travels through a series of cables, pylons, substations and transformers. However, none of this is taken into consideration when a plug is turned on and a quarterly bill paid. The end user doesn’t buy coal or gas, in the same way they don’t buy cloud computing, they pay for the services that run on it.

Cloud computing may therefore be destined as a term used at corporate level, or the term used to define the stage in transition from static local based data to the ‘cloud’. Even here the term is useful to summarise the collective name for end process. Whilst it may be important for larger organisations to use the term ‘cloud computing’, it seems that many individuals are satisfied on the systems working without error.

This may be the biggest test of cloud computing – when things go wrong. Security and trust have always been deciding factors in the success of the cloud. When Hotmail recently lost 500 user's emails, was it a failure of cloud computing or a failure of Hotmail? Would it take a larger failure of an entire system to create distrust in the cloud – probably not.

The benefits of cloud computing are well documented and can definitely be seen as a success. Facebook reported that over the New Year period, 750 million photos were uploaded to the service. It seems today that millions of people are using the cloud, they just don’t know it. 

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