Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Why the term Cloud?

The Cloud as a term for Cloud Computing is such an odd term.

Think of the Cloud from the ancient Egyptian, Norse, Chinese or Indian perspective. The Sun and Moon were good and they were Gods. Clouds hid the Sun and Moon. There are Gods for Thunder and Lightening and the Sky. But apparently, Clouds were not super awesome enough to deserve their own stand-alone God.

Think of the Cloud as a weather phenomenon. It's not a positive. Here is my word association with "Cloud":
grey, sleepy, rain, boring, dirty, damp, no sun, sad, thunder, no moon, dull, same

Think of how the Cloud came into use in the field of technology. Network Architects had to draw network diagrams. They didn't know how to label the large parts of the network they didn't control that connected the parts they did control together. Within their own span of control they could denote in great detail the make and model of each router, switch and server. They could denote how two parts of their controlled network were connected by a private line and whether that line was a T1 or OC3. But how to draw the large part of the Public Internet they didn't control? Well it was fuzzy, and undefinable, but it was there, and it was expected to work, so it was sort of like the air. Not having a way to draw "the Public Internet" someone somewhere, perhaps someone who decided on the shapes in Microsoft Visio, came up with using a Cloud. And the usage stuck.

So where does that leave me, the consumer or enterprise buyer?

As a consumer the Cloud for me is this statement: "please don't make me think about this paltry trifle of saving my data and ensuring it's all there when I need it. If my phone gets stolen just make sure I can find it and don't lose my contacts." The Cloud has gone from something I find sad, rainy and depressing, to a term for stuff I don't want to do because I find it boring and repetitive. Great.

As an enterprise customer, the Cloud means that thing that always sat in the middle of my network engineer's diagrams that no one understood. Now it turns out I'd like a lot more control over it because I want it to be more predictable, scalable and cost effective. So the Cloud, something that by its very representation was meant to be something undefinable and fuzzy, has come to mean something that I don't understand that I want control over.


1 comment:

Lilac - Like The Flower said...

The cloud is just the latest incarnation. The grid. The utility. the mainframe. Hal. it's all the same. plug in, get computing - except no one quite realizes that all compute is not the same. And most uses for it aren't ready to take a steady 120 volt.

Meanwhile ironically, we have started caring where our power is coming from... wind? nuclear? all of a sudden, even the power grid is not the power grid anymore.