On the theme of the ‘cloud’….
If the Rolling Stones had time back or rather, were just now embarking on their career, they’d be writing “Hey, you, get on to my cloud.” Most everyone is now saying to us or telling us, that is just what we should be doing – getting in[on]to ‘cloud computing’. Many analysts and researchers, such as Gartner and the IT Governance Institute, are happy to tell us that’s exactly what we will be doing. The ‘cloud’ is inevitable. Its advance is inexorable. It’s capacity is inexhaustible (might have to be careful on that one; see Parkinson’s Law – “programs expand to fill all available memory”). So we shouldn’t fight against it; we should embrace it.
The trouble with us humans is that we’re conditioned otherwise. We’re conditioned to own or possess things; we covet things – or as Nietzsche might have written, there’s a Will to Possess amongst the untermensch. Perhaps ‘The Cloud’ will finally herald the arrival of the übermensch? We’ve become accustomed to collect possessions and to own things. Books and CDs are a classic example at the personal level. But, think about it for a minute; if you’ve got an Android phone or (heaven forbid) an iPhone, with access to Pandora or Last.fm or Spotify, who needs a collection of CDs gathering dust on a shelf. When you’re on-line to a virtually [sic] limitless, random selection of your favourite music, what more could you want.
From both a business and consumer perspective, perhaps the important question is one of access versus ownership. The iPod and the Kindle present solutions on both sides of the equation as, despite the download, Amazon stores your purchases for you; in perpetuity and to enable sequential reading of the same book on multiple devices. Continuing the theme on books, Inventive Labs have recently launched Book.ish, an e-reader based on the idea of access versus ownership – all you need is a browser. There’s no EPUB file download as you simply pay for perpetual access rights. It’s ‘the book as URL’.
From a business angle, we’re also conditioned to possess things. Down the years, it’s been anything from fax machines to PCs and servers; from data storage to voicemail and PBX systems. Perhaps it’s time to let go. Do you really want to own a PBX? Wasn’t it just a limitation of technology that forced you to that last CAPEX purchase? The emergence of IP as a viable transport medium for voice calls, coupled with advances in host media processing (e.g., Prosody S HMP), Asterisk/FreeSWITCH, SIP trunking and high-level telephony APIs, has fuelled a rise in hosted services in recent times – CENTREX for the 21st Century as it has been called. But now, beyond hosted service provision (beyond good and evil) there is the ‘cloud’.
Many folks have a fear of clouds. They think that they might evaporate and blow away or that lack of connectivity or the failure of a provider’s business would instantly destroy their business – or make a purchased book disappear, temporarily or permanently. Similar concerns also exist in the ownership of hardware paradigm, but everyone copes with the fear of not being able to get spare parts or the demise of a maintenance provider. It’s all relative. Yes, there is network dependency in the cloud model, but there is no long-term fragility. Forget ‘five-nines’ availability; in the ‘cloud’ there can be ‘ten-nines’ persistence. In addition, the pricing has more in common with movie rentals than purchasing the DVD – you won’t be paying hardbound, off-the-shelf prices for rented access, or content or services.
“Hey, you, get on to my cloud.” Stick a flag on your windscreen.