Examining Cloud Computing as a “Feature,” and as an “Approach”


All year I’ve been saying that cloud computing is not really a technology. Since it’s not very helpful just to say what something isn’t, I’ve also been trying to say what cloud computing is, if it’s not a technology or set of technologies. And I think at this point, I’m starting to think that it’s a feature.

Here’s why. “Cloudiness,” if you’ll forgive the expression, looks a lot like something that applications or systems can either have or not have, and in varying degrees. The individual product or services that form part or all of a given corporate application or system might be more or less cloudy, including some that can claim to be 100% cloud. The degree to which a service, product, application, or system uses cloud computing is one of its features.

Thinking of cloud computing as a feature seems kind of unsatisfactory, though. So perhaps we can combine this idea with another one that’s unsatisfactory on its own: that cloud computing is a strategic approach. You can use more or less cloud computing for applications and systems at your organization based on the business and IT strategy you’re following. And part of this will be to vary the kind of cloud you use, public, private, IaaS, SaaS, etc.

And then, on the acquisition level—once you’ve moved past the strategy and are implementing and managing it—you can evaluate technologies, vendors, and products in part according to their cloud-computing capabilities and features.

Seems simple … which is, I’m sure, illusory. We’ll find out as we develop our next survey. I’ll be sure to let you know.


4 Comments for "Examining Cloud Computing as a “Feature,” and as an “Approach”"

  • Guy Currier October 31, 2011 4:22 pm

    Good point, Greg! My first memory of the term “cloud” is much later, when Google picked it up for a promotional campaign around 2002 or so (?), to show how cool they were because they needed so many computing resources. That may have been its first push into the mainstream.

  • Greg October 31, 2011 4:09 pm

    I first came across the term "Cloud" with Novell 4. I hve always understood "cloud"to mean applications and services that give no clear indication to the end user of where the resources are based. The main feature I see in "cloud" these days is that there are more resources available at a much lower cost than an internal network.

  • Sandy October 31, 2011 11:36 am

    For the best description of what “the cloud” really isn't, which is not new, see the interview with Oracle's founder, Larry Ellison back in 2008.

  • Andy October 28, 2011 5:46 pm

    Cloud computing IS a technology, but it's not a new technology. It's old technology with buzz.

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