Google's right, but cloud computing's timeline isn't so clear

No doubt cloud computing is going to be the future, but as the last couple of days demonstrated, there's still a lot of remaining spadework.

Earlier Tuesday, a Google executive by the name of Rishi Chandra made the argument that the move to cloud computing was just a matter of time.

""The next 10 years of innovations are going to be in the cloud. Enterprise software is not going away, but there is a transition taking place," he said during a conference taking place in Boston.

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I don't know whether it will be 10 years or not, but that's the trend. Nobody still seriously argues that it won't be easier to run word processors or spreadsheets off a central network of remote servers. The tech world has been inching that way in fits and starts for the last couple of years. And nowadays, there is a roster of big-name companies delivering business applications via the cloud. Besides Google, the list includes the likes of Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Salesforce.com.

But the IT industry has more tempered expectations for the likely timetable. Earlier in the year, Richard Jones of the Burton Group told IT BusinessEdgethat "organizations have to move from traditional client/server and SOA-based applications" that are dependent on static allocation of resources. He went on to explain that:

There has been a political and attitude change with CIOs. Some was forced on them. The CFO has gained more power and the business metrics were pushed on (IT). And so some of them have gone to the model grudgingly. They can't argue against numbers. Some see the economies of scale. That's a good trend. Now instead of static services, you can go out over the Internet, where essentially any service you need to run can be found. You can look at the cloud as a timeshare. Politically, the boundaries have broken down a bit faster.

As always, the reliability of the underlying network is the biggest uncertainty. The infrastructure remains under construction. As a reminder, the real world recently reminded everyone that crystal balls don't always account for the unexpected.

On both Friday and Monday, Amazon was up and down --a source of no small annoyance for customers such as yours truly looking to buy stuff. Also, in February, Amazon's S3 storage service experienced a major outage. A couple of months later, the company's CTOoffered the brilliant insight that "everything fails all the time." Now, that's helpful. True to form, during this latest brown-out Amazon hid from the press, leaving customers and outsiders to speculate about what caused the glitch.

I'm not trying to dump on Amazon. but IT directors are the epitome of creatures of habit. If they are going to participate in this grand cloud computing transition envisioned by Google, Amazon, and others, they'll need a lot more assurance--especially when it comes to privacy, security, and scalability--before venturing into uncharted territory.

 

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