Will everything eventually go to the cloud?

Consuming software-as-a-service versus installing software is the next battlefield, even when you take into account the complexities of enterprise systems.

At lunch with Michael Coté from RedMonk on Wednesday, we talked a lot about how open source has really split into "free" and "open source," with the former typically associated with basement developers and Apache licenses, and the latter generally associated with the General Public License and some set of enhanced features.

As I was following Coté's Twitter feedearlier, I started to wonder whether everything really will go to the cloud and all of our open-source musing will go away, as software becomes consumed versus installed.

Realistically, there is a vast array of software that really can't move outside the enterprise in the foreseeable future. Consider, for example, banking and stock-trading systems, or telecommunications infrastructure. On the other hand, consider pretty much everything else. Even when you take into account the complexities of back-office systems, odds are that in a green-field situation, you could find a software-as-a-service application to solve your problems.

So here's the paradox that I think about: Let's consider a company like Google, which writes, buys, and installs a lot of software. Some is unique to its business and isn't available as an online service. Other products are packaged applications. Yet it wants the rest of the world to stop buying software, instead just consuming it from Google.

I'm not seeing a way that on-premise software disappears forever...

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