Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alistair Croll has his head in the clouds.

Writing for GigaOm, Croll debunks the idea that cloud computing is just the latest vaporware, just misty hype in an overhyped 2.0 atmosphere. Here's the meat of his message:

Now here’s the cloud. It’s driven by five big things, none of which are hype, and all of which are changing the way we compute.

1. Power and cooling are expensive. Today, it costs far more to run computers than it does to buy them in the first place. To save on power, we’re building data centers near dams; for cooling, we’re considering using decommissioned ships. This is about economics and engineering.
2. Demand is global. Storage itself may be cheap, but data processing at scale is hard to do. With millions of consumers using a service, putting data next to computing is the only way to satisfy them.
3. Computing is ubiquitous. We’ve lost our desktop affinity. Most of the devices in the world that can access the Internet aren’t desktops; they’re cell phones. Keeping applications and content on a desktop isn’t just old-fashioned — it’s inconvenient.
4. Applications are built from massive, smart parts. Clouds give developers building blocks they couldn’t build themselves, from storage to authentication to friend feeds to CRM interfaces, letting coders stand on the shoulders of giants.
5. Clouds let us experiment. By removing the cost of staging an environment, a cloud lets a company try new things faster. This is also true of virtualization in general, but by billing on demand the cloud means anyone can experiment.

This truly is a fundamental change in computing, even if its title has been diluted by marketing agendas. We have to be careful not to throw the innovation baby out with the cloud hype bathwater.

I'm particularly bullish on points 3 and 5, as they are key to our realization of the liberty and collaborative creativity that the mobile web promises. As Yogi Berra said, "If I hadn't believed it, I wouldn't have seen it." So true. So true.

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