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Is Cloud Computing Old Wine in New Bottles?

More Important, Does It Matter If It Is?

"It would be interesting to see how much of this increase is due to marketing rationalization of existing products (eg, 'let's think of this as cloud') versus true re-engineering using cloud-based approaches for a true cloud experience."

Thus writes Alan Perkins, CIO of Altium Ltd. (an Australlian electronics design tools developer), in the comments section of the Sand Hill Group's website, in response to a new Cloud Computing report from the Silicon Valley VC firm.

The old wine in new bottles argument.

An Inflection Point
The Sand Hill report in question states that "the software industry is in the middle of a major inflection point not seen since the client-server days," and that this year "is already proving to be a decisive one for cloud software and services vendors."

That's cool if you're gearing up for the 8th Annual Cloud Expo in New York (to be held June 6-9). It's cool if you consider yourself to be a Cloud developer, or if you're advocating within your company that Cloud Computing is where it's at. It's very cool if you work for something called Cloud Computing Journal.

Vino Vino
But is it true? Is a lot of the Cloud momentum just old wine in new bottles?

To these questions, I pose two more questions: What's wrong with old wine in new bottles, assuming the old wine was a good one? And what does it matter?

The reality is that all of enterprise IT realizes that a move from capital expenditure to monthly operating expense-a key selling point of Cloud Computing-is something whose time has come. The reality is that we've been relying on information grabbed from the sky (ie, the Cloud) for a couple of decades now, whether email, travel reservations, or our bank accounts.

I can't say that I don't like seeing Lotus Notes (invented in 1989) sold as Cloud Computing, and I have my doubts that a more-rigid-than-rigid enterprise IT provider such as SAP can ever grok the loosely coupled meaning of Cloud Computing.

But I can say that the present-day mega-hyping of Cloud Computing has, if nothing else, put the term in the middle of any IT conversation, in a way that focuses on innovation, flexibility, and saving money. These are all positive things.

The Sand Hill Numbers
The Sand Hill Group, for its part, says that 100 software CEOs and senior executives responded with optimism to a recent survey about the Cloud. A total of 85 percent of them said their company already has Cloud product or service offerings; actually, I'm surprised to see that this number wasn't 100 percent. More important, 40 percent of them said they'd had their product or service on the market for more than two years.

The Sand Hill survey said that 43% of these execs expected at least 80 percent of their company revenues to come from Cloud Computing products within five years.

You know what? I think those numbers are low. I would say it's more like 100 percent will have at least 80 percent of revenues from the Cloud in 2016, and at least half of them will be fully Cloud-driven by then.

Those old cabs stay good in the bottle for a long, long time, and yet there's nothing like the new Beaujolais every November. Maybe we should rename Cloud Computing to Wine Computing. Then everybody would see how the term can accommodate any varietal-as long as it tastes good.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.