Cloud (and other annoying words)

ARTICLE BY MATT TORRENS, DIRECTOR AT SPROUT IT

The cloud. Cloud computing. Cloud hosted. It’s annoying, isn’t it? Actually, it’s annoying in two ways. Firstly, to be bombarded with such terms on such a frequent basis, is utterly frustrating. Furthermore, from a service provider’s point of view, it’s frustrating to see the bastardisation of the definition and concept of cloud computing – half of us have no idea what it is and half the service providers out there are busy trying to force the definition to match whatever service offering it is they are trying to peddle.

So we’ve established it’s annoying – but, presumably, it’s important too, if only because a Google search for Cloud Computing, currently returns 132 million results.

How did it all start?

These days, pretty much every house has internet connected technology. Right across the age spectrum from kids watching on-demand TV to my old Mum tapping away on her phablet (although she calls it a ‘thingy’).  Use cases are varied too, with the InternetOfThings meaning that connectivity is not limited to a device with a human on the end of it.  House alarms and smart electricity meters are good examples.  But it wasn’t always like this.  Cast your mind back to the 80’s and you may recall mealtimes where you weren’t subjected to the view of the top of someone’s bowed head, as they attend to their ever-beeping smartphone.  Business was largely conducted by typed (yes, on a typewriter) letter and phone call.  If you wanted to see someone for a meeting, you had to sit in the same room and not just view them on a screen. There was some computing, but it took place in darkened rooms, on machines the size of a house and was operated by shuffling, bearded mean, sporting thick rimmed spectacles.

The 90’s soon arrived, along with John Major[1], and the PC became a standard fixture in living rooms across the country.  All software was installed locally on the PCs (more bearded, bespectacled techies) and the most heard tune of the decade began emitting from dial-up modems.  Users cared not how the internet was strung together or what protocols were in place; they just used it.  The internet was ‘out there’ somewhere – so a cloud symbol, made perfect sense.

The dotcom bubble grew and then burst; a cloudburst of sorts.  As we recovered, the term ‘cloud’ didn’t gain much more traction until half way through the first decade of the new century.  2006 saw Amazon’s launch of its Elastic Compute Cloud, Microsoft Azure was born in 2008 and IBM’s SmartCloud arrived in 2011.  So, you see, Cloud is arguably both old and new – and it’s certainly evolving very, very fast.  The InternetOfThings, on which our lives are already hugely dependent (think SmartCities, traffic flow, pollution monitoring) couldn’t function without the Cloud.  So popular was the term Cloud by 2008, that Dell’s attempt to patent the term ‘cloud computing’ failed.  Nice try guys.  Apple neatly, and predictably, got round the problem with the use of iCloud and, just when we were all getting our head around Cloud (Private, Public, Hybrid) some smartass introduced the ‘as-a-service’ concept.

Smartass.

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Smartass-as-a-service (SaaS); and so on.  More recently, Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) has made a big play and (here comes the techy in me) is rather good!  Connect to your PC from the office, home, iPad, phablet (yes, Mum, the ‘thingy’), train, plane or even holiday (ok, the last one isn’t the greatest step forwards, perhaps).  Amusingly, DaaS rather neatly completes the full circle journey back to dumb terminal and mainframe computing from the day of the original bearded/bespectacled shufflers.  Does that mean the end of the cloud is nigh?  Afraid not.  In fact all the as-a-service offerings live in the cloud, too – we’re wedded to this 

technology for the rest of our lifetimes at least.  The name may change, I suppose, but at least you know a bit about its history, now.

So, whilst you’re not about to stop hearing about ‘Cloud’, here some items I would like to get rid of:

  • ‘locked in’.  Stop locking me in, just send me a calendar request.
  • ‘you’re on my radar’.  Get me off it, please – that’s stalking.
  • ‘reaching out to you’.  Stop it, just stop it.
  • ‘can I get a…..’.  No, never.

Ahh, that feels much better; more relaxed.  Peace-of-mind-as-a-service.


[1] I am not blaming the former Prime Minister for any of this

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