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Tim Benninghoff

A SQL Server DBA attempts a personal IT project and documents the (mis)adventures.

Thoughts On The Cloud

Cloud computing is all the rage right now.  Many of the people I follow on Twitter, whose opinions I respect, are talking about it as the wave of the future.  Paul Nielsen made a bold prediction on his blog last monthBrent Ozar blogs about it frequently and appears pretty excited about it.  And, without a doubt, the news today about SDS is adding momentum to cloud computing.

 

So, anyway, here I sit.  I'm in danger of slipping behind on my goals for 2009 to blog once a week.  I need a topic.  Why not cloud computing?

 

I'm a DBA.  I'm in the IT trenches every day, and my job boils down to making sure that people have access to their data, and that their data is protected; from theft, from disaster, from accidents, from their own mistakes.  I work hard during the day, and I have enough interest in my craft to dedicate some of my personal time to it.  Here's cloud computing through my lenses.  You’ll need your own grains of salt.

 

 When You're A Hammer...

 

Despite my best efforts, I’m not the creature of logic I strive to be.  And this is another one of those times when it’s very possible that my emotions are getting the better of me.  So, let me get the emotional part of my critique of cloud computing out of the way.  My instincts say it is not even going to come close to approaching the bold pronouncements of its major proponents, be they vendors or technology experts.  Why?  I’d counter that question with some questions for you.  How’s SOA working out for you?  How about offshoring?  Virtualization?

 

These are just a few examples of recent IT ideas that, while they looked great on paper, have in no way been universal successes.  I’m not suggesting that because they are not universal successes that they must be failures, but what I mean to say is that they have their time and place.  Clearly, your perspective has alot of influence on whether you consider them successes, and some of them have been more successful than others.  But, they are another tool in your toolbox for solving problems.

 

I see cloud computing as just another tool in the toolbox.  It will have some impact on the IT topography of companies, but it will not dominate the landscape for probably a couple decades.

 

So, where’s my proof?  I don’t have any.  It’s just my gut talking.  It’s my brain interpreting what I perceive as the loud volume of vendors advocating for the cloud, and the silence of customers, or potential customers, praising it as a success.  It’s my experience dealing with vendors and imagining that I will have the same sorts of problems dealing with cloud computing vendors that I do with hardware and software vendors today.  It’s my natural defense against hype.  It's all of those things, and probably more.

 

I Can See The Future?

 

It’s not fair for me to just play armchair critic and not risk a little something, so here are my predictions.

 

Over the next 18 months there will be a major push towards cloud computing in the IT press.  (C’mon, that’s a gimme.)

 

In 5 years, large companies will start pulling back from their initial, heavy investments in cloud computing for numerous reasons.  There will have been a high profile security breach.  A major cloud computing vendor will have gone belly up, likely due to some scandal, putting its customers at risk.

 

In 20-30 years my post will seem foolish, as cloud computing will be a common, natural, but still not exclusive, part of the IT landscape.  Why 20-30 years?  Because I think it’s going to take a cultural shift of kids growing up in a time of ubiquitous internet and the concept of non-tangible goods, like digital music files, to take leadership positions and express their unique view of IT in their companies’ decisions.

 

That’s Just A Start

 

I think I’ve got a lot more to say about cloud computing, but I’ve used up my blogging minutes for today.

Published Tuesday, March 10, 2009 5:10 PM by timbenninghoff
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