Here are some quick thoughts on a couple of yesterday’s cloud computing announcements. What these show us are two distinct trends: (1) cloud computing is becoming increasingly viable; and (2) the word “cloud” to describe SaaS is creeping dangerously close to lethal levels.
IBM and its New ‘Cloud’ Services
The Internet does make collaboration, meeting and the like easier (and, in fact, possible) to virtually, but everything online collaboration tool or other piece of software as a service cannot be called “cloud.” I am speaking, of course, about IBM’s new suite of “cloud services,” which includes Lotus Sametime Unyte, Rational Policy Tester OnDemand, Rational AppScan OnDemand, Telelogic Focal Point and a social networking/collaboration tool that IBM is calling “Bluehouse.” If I recall, IBM already has a cloud computing initiative focused around its Blue Cloud software and its increasing number of global Cloud Computing Centers. The company also has tagged its iDataPlex servers with the cloud label. Why not leave the cloud label where it belongs?
I’m as guilty as anyone of talking constantly about the cloud, but that’s because the paradigm of accessing infrastructure as a service is an absolutely game-changing development — and I give IBM props for taking the lead with its aforementioned initiatives. But SaaS is SaaS, and was so before the term “cloud computing” ever really came to be. Maybe some new incarnations are Web 2.0-ified, but that doesn’t necessarily change what we should call (unless we want to slap a 2.0 on the end). You’d have to be blind not to notice some cloud backlash emerging among users, vendors and the press, and haphazardly calling every piece of software delivered via the Internet a cloud service is only fueling that movement’s fire.
The cloud model can — and likely will succeed — but the name will go the way of the dodo realy soon if we don’t nip this everything-is-the-cloud marketing strategy in the bud. The term will lose its meaning, and we’ll be struggling to define cloud computing in terms of its business benefits rather than with this quite handy euphemism. (On that note, I should add that IBM’s Remote Data Protection service, which was part of yesterday’s announcement, might be more accurately described as a cloud service.)
Back to Computing in the Cloud
Just like I loved its recent partnership with Appistry, I love that GoGrid this week announced a partnership with GigaSpaces. I’ve waved the GoGrid flag before, so let me just recap why this announcement is a big deal: GoGrid already offers both Windows and Linux VMs, an easy-to-use GUI, on-demand provisioning, utility billing, and actual SLAs. Now, it adds GigaSpaces tried-and-true capabilities around real-time scalability and in-memory data caching, which will allow GoGrid users with extreme transaction processing needs to tackle their demands in the cloud. Appistry and GigaSpaces offer similar-yet-differentiated products for delivering instantaneous scalability, but both make the cloud environment in which they’re running more than “just a bunch of virtual machines,” as Appistry’s Sam Charrington would put it.
Like I’ve said before, people want to love the cloud, and the more they can take advantage of these high-performance capabilities in the cloud without exerting exorbitant amounts of time and money, the faster I think we’ll see real adoption.