Understanding The Cloud

I was recently invited by Ballarat ICT to give a talk about “understanding the cloud”. I don’t often speak at this kind of thing and it was great fun to flex my Keynote skills, and some of the research I did for the talk was quite interesting.

Among other things, I made the point that consolidating and sharing IT resources is not at all new; we’ve been doing it since the dawn of the CPU. It’s great shock value to quote Larry Ellison – that cloud computing as a technological term is “gibberish” – but he has a point. It’s not new, and as an industry, we’ve been doing it for a long time.

But given the ubiquity of the internet, of clients capable of connecting to it, and of servers capable of securely isolating their resources, it’s clear to me that “cloud computing” is going to be an increasingly common aspect of modern IT departments. Using remote, shared IT resources is always going to have reliability and economic advantages over dedicated, local IT resources.

Of course, cloud computing is no IT panacea – there are plenty of examples of cloud services suffering outages – but I believe that any given cloud service provider is going to be far more reliable and economical than any in-house IT system of similar complexity. The reason you hear about Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce outages is not because they’re particularly common, but simply because they are big, and therefore newsworthy. In-house IT outages happen every day, but you don’t hear about them because they’re not interesting.

The days of the server room are limited. Long live the data centre!