Earlier this month I had the opportunity to deliver two presentations on cloud computing at the Next Generation Data Center (NGDC) conference. The first talk was part of the Executive Summit, an all-day event for senior IT professionals moderated by Don Tennant of ComputerWorld. The second was a stand-alone presentation as part of the conference’s Applications Track.
Since so many of us still struggle to define cloud computing, offering my perspective on what it’s all about seemed like a natural place to start.
I took a bit of an integrative approach with the definition I presented. Granted, it’s not the kind of definition that satisfies the engineer in me, but I think it helps capture the essence–and promise–of cloud computing.
My main point is that when we try to define cloud based on some subset of the technologies used to implement it, we risk missing the forest for the trees.
Unfortunately this is done all-too-frequently, in part because of the different perspectives that we bring to the task. To illustrate a few of these perspectives at play, I read Executive Summit attendees a poem called “The Blind Men and the Cloud,” which I wrote with help from Noreen Barczewski, the Appistry office bard.
The poem, based on “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” by John Godfrey Saxe, tells the story of six "blind men of Info Tech," each trying to define cloud computing. If you look around at the various cloud definitions being proposed, I think you’ll see these six perspectives–and more–at play.
The Blind Men and the Cloud
It was six men of Info Tech
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Cloud
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind
The First approached the Cloud,
So sure that he was boasting
“I know exactly what this is…
This Cloud is simply Hosting.”
The Second grasped within the Cloud,
Saying, “No it’s obvious to me,
This Cloud is grid computing…
Servers working together in harmony!”
The Third, in need of an answer,
Cried, "Ho! I know its source of power
It’s a utility computing solution
Which charges by the hour.”
The Fourth reached out to touch it,
It was there, but it was not
“Virtualization,” said he.
“That’s precisely what we’ve got!”
The Fifth, so sure the rest were wrong
Declared “It’s sass you fools,
Applications with no installation
It’s breaking all the rules!"
The Sixth (whose name was Benioff),
Felt the future he did know,
He made haste in boldly stating,
“This *IS* Web 3.0.”
And so these men of Info Tech
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were partly wrong!
So, what perspectives are you seeing out there? Does keeping the different perspectives in mind help make sense of the different definitions being proposed?