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Andre Yee

Has Cloud Computing Jumped the Shark?

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Definition (from wikipedia): "jumping the shark" - an idiom used to describe the moment of downturn for a previously successful enterprise

Has cloud computing jumped the shark? Matt Prigge in this Infoworld article seems to think so. For the record, I tend to be impressed with anyone who is willing to thoughtfully challenge conventional thinking. Prigge insists that the "cloud computing emperor" has no clothes, virtual or otherwise. Here's a snippet of his assertions -

"Frankly, I've never seen what all the fuss is about...Web hosting providers have been around since the dawn of the Internet as we know it. I consider them the first widely adopted purveyors of cloud infrastructure. They offer hosted, multitenant software and a hardware architecture that charges on a subscription or per-use basis like a utility."

Prigge isn't the first to join this naysaying bandwagon - he's just a little late... unfortunately, just when band leader, Larry Ellison is changing his mind and turning around on the whole cloud computing thing.

I think Prigge is rightly reacting to the hype created by analysts, media and vendors - all with a vested interest in magnifying the influence of cloud computing. That said, Prigge is missing the essence of cloud computing - elasticity, self service provisioning, multi-tenancy. Elasticity (variable capacity) means being able to scale processing/storage dynamically - in concert or in anticipation of demand. Self service provisioning means enabling a low cost, quick start deployment - and it's not simply a figment of marketing imagination but real value to end users. Multi-tenancy is a fundamental architecture principle that ensures that all users will share common software platform, yet maintain virtual separation of data & configuration. This leads to lower ongoing TCO costs.

Is this game-changing? Absolutely. However, if Prigge and other skeptics are looking for the one big, essential technology innovation that is cloud computing, they are missing the big picture - cloud computing is first and foremost about business innovation through technology, not the other way around. It results from a combination of seemingly marginal technology innovations that collectively deliver a game-changing business model for developing, deploying and maintaining software.

Has cloud computing jumped the shark? Maybe Prigge's article is evidence that it's settling comfortably into what Gartner calls the trough of disillusionment. That's good news because when we get past the hype we can move onto real world solutions.

Andre Yee blogs about cloud computing, SaaS, Web 2.0 and other emerging technologies that matter to businesses.

Andre Yee

Andre Yee is an entrepreneur and technologist with nearly 20 years of experience in the business of technology.

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