When they came up with the word the "Cloud", I'm thinking they (whoever "they" are) were looking for a way to package this nebulous thing that would be accepted easily as opposed to something more appropriate - like the "Swamp" or the "Sandbox" or "that place that we can't quite describe where we want you to store everything you have and never have to worry about anything IT again". I can only imagine the guys from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft behind a mirrored window watching focus group after focus group trying to come up with some lovely addage so that they could get everyone to buy into it. The Cloud. Close your eyes and imagine a white, puffy, soft, and warm place. It certainly evokes a positive image way more than the reality of the unknown that it currently is. I don't say this in any condescending or negative way. Really. I actually mean it in the most affectionate way. Unfortunately, "The Cloud" means so many things to so many people that it's about as murky as the letters "IT".
What exactly is the Cloud? Well, it's so interesting to me that I've heard so many different ways it's been described from so many different people lately. If you use Gmail, your mail's in the cloud. If you use Dropbox, you're in the cloud. I recently heard from someone in IT who said none of these are "the cloud". He told me, to him the cloud means complete virtualization of everything down to the desktops. So, anything less than this is NOT the cloud. Intel sells a "Hybrid Cloud Solution". There are "Virtual Private Clouds". Again - this is the murkiness I was referring to. Way too many different definitions.
For those of us responsible for managing IT, right now the negative related to the cloud really isn't about the loss of work this "evolution" looks to be (at least for those of us who don't provide IT as a commodity). Nor is it about the loss of control - over the systems we manage nor the client relationships we value. At this point in time, I believe the most difficult thing is helping our clients and prospective clients understand the complexities of this change and to properly and valuably navigate the waters of this change for them. And it certainly does look to be a significant change. What will work for one type of business may not work for another. And what will work for one size business may not work for another. And what will work for one business process for one business may not work for the exact same process for another business.
Beyond simply the initial capital costs, the ongoing maintenance costs, and ultimately the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), what we're seeing as significant differences between the Cloud and on-premise solutions is more about the impact to work flows, overall computing functionality, security of information, etc. Things that really make a difference impacting the productity and efficiency of the staff of growing companies. While this move to the Cloud certainly looks to be a way to continue to promote the ever increasing value of IT, as experience has shown us navigating these waters alone or just with the channel selling to end users will end up with IT as a commodity for our SMB friends. Which will ultimately mean more and more businesses losing the ability to further leverage technology to its fullest. And this is where we, our clients' Trusted Advisor, always fit in - providing that bridge between the technical solution and their business needs. Business Before Technology - We Get IT!