Pinning Down ‘The Cloud’

Here’s what Larry Ellison, CEO of the US software giant Oracle thought about ‘The Cloud’ in 2009 [* see note below]

Nowadays, if you happen to be involved in any way with computing technology, there’s a good chance that you might be making use of ‘The Cloud’. Perhaps at this very moment. But what exactly is ‘The Cloud’?

cloudsBack in 2009, there were at least twenty different complementary and not-so-complementary ‘definitions’ drifting around – and in an attempt at clarification, they were carefully examined and cross-compared by a joint research team from Telefonica Investigacion y Desarrollo (Spain) and SAP Research (Ireland). Despite their best efforts though, the team ended their paper ‘A Break in the Clouds: Towards a Cloud Definition’ (ACM SIGGCOM Computer Communication Review, Vol. 39, Number 1) by concluding :

“Clouds do not have a clear and complete definition in the literature yet …”

Then, in January 2011, the Computer Security Division of the Information Technology Laboratory at the US Govt.’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) floated a new, official, one – albeit in ‘draft’ form.

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

That was then – and this is now, and it seems that despite the official clarification, not everyone is yet completely convinced that notions about ‘The Cloud’ are always 100% down to earth – here’s a quote from the relevant Wikipedia page [Nov. 2013] which hints at marketing hype :

“The popularity of the term can be attributed to its use in marketing to sell hosted services in the sense of application service provisioning that run client server software on a remote location.”

So, is ‘The Cloud’ an infrastructural paradigm-shift towards quasi-autonomous configurable synergic network provisioning? Or vaporous technobabble conjured up by marketeers in order to squeeze more cash out of gullible clients. Or neither? Or both? For more detailed information, there’s a 77 page report available from Gartner Inc. “… the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company.” [as self-proclaimed] It’s titled : ‘Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing, 2012′

“While clearly maturing and beyond the Peak of Inflated Expectations, cloud computing continues to be one of the most hyped subjects in IT. ”

[A copy of] The report is yours for US$1,995.00

Also see: Related, but only nominatively : The Cloud Appreciation Society

“We believe that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.”

 Note * Recent moves by Oracle suggest that he might have changed his mind somewhat.