2010 prediction: cloud to benefit from less haze and hype
The warning signs have been around since about 2008. My own truly worrying signal that the increasing buzz around cloud has officially kicked up too much dust came when, flipping through my beloved Economist recently (how will my new Kindle ever give me that crisp, snappy-paged satisfaction?), I read through The Economist Cloud Briefing: "Clash of the Clouds: The launch of Windows 7 marks the end of an era in computing—and the beginning of an epic battle between Microsoft, Google, Apple and others."
Attribution: Illustration by Ian Whadcock, Economist.com
Let's get this straight. The Economist -- as close to a journalistic beacon of integrity and excellence as exists, IMHO -- "and othered" Amazon to include Apple in its Top 3 battling it out for cloud dominance. DRM-imbued, closed loop, opaque Apple. Then, led its list of Top 3 cloud titans with Microsoft, who arguably is just getting started with cloud efforts, and is not yet apace with Google or Amazon. Or Salesforce.com for that matter. Isn't this the business equivilant of awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, signalling sky-high expectations of players, most of whom haven't delivered much of anything yet?
You'll need to read the article to get a sense of the restricted way the author seems to define cloud computing solely as a mainframe-to-PC-to-cloud evolution, completely missing the context of cloud as a platform that is leveraged by other parties to create customer-facing applications (nicely echoed by vzach and AOtto -- benefits of the Web edition include the exposing of kindred reaction. :-)) Dion Hinchcliffe of ZDnet makes more accurate, compelling points that the clash of the clouds will be a "winner-takes-all" battle similar to previous platform battles, where immature battlefield rules of engagement, standards and definitions are still being solidified.
On top of leading and well-respected business publications clouding our understanding, additional murkiness came in the form of a pre-holiday duststorm around the December 18th Rackspace "cloud failure" that brought down major sites for the better part of an hour (again) when Rackspace failover plans seemingly did not include data center and peering redundancy for AT&T when their backbone failed ("FailT&T is the Ford Pinto of the internet" via @shamptonian.) Isn't redundancy a key prerequisite for something to be considered cloud, therefore making this not a cloud failure, but a hosting redundancy failure? (read: is it OK for virtual private server hosting to be re-branded as ‘cloud’ hosting when it is not in fact cloud-based via @john_mason_?)
My wish in 2010 if for cloud standards to grow up a bit, and for cloud as a platform to become less "developer-beware". May the best titan win, may they be as open as possible but not more open, and may cloud not suffer the fate of becoming the most overhyped, least delivered upon term of 2010.