Cloud computing has completely changed the way businesses — and their consumers — store and access their data. Here’s what the experts have to say about its capabilities and what it means for the future of IT.
1. “I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.” ~ Steve Jobs, Co-founder, CEO and Chairman of Apple Inc.
It’s true — with the rise of mobile devices and other devices that rely on remote storage (such as Chromebooks), there’s no compelling case to require local storage. In fact, synchronizing profiles (including bookmarks, contacts, and files) across multiple devices is rapidly becoming the default. With cheap, available cloud storage available to host preferences and documents, why lock yourself into having data available only on one device?
2. “Cloud is about how you do computing, not where you do computing.” ~ Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware
The trend in computing is like a pendulum. In the 1960s, it was about developing computing power in a single device. In the 1980s, it was about multiple dumb terminals connecting to a mainframe. In the 1990s, it was about getting a personal computer (or Mac) into each household. Now, we’re back to network-based computing — only the broad access to Wi-Fi and mobile data has dramatically expanded access to networks. The cloud is the latest iteration, but with a key difference — we’re no longer tied to just one server.
3. “The cloud services companies of all sizes…The cloud is for everyone. The cloud is a democracy.” ~ Marc Benioff, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Salesforce
Cloud computing certainly democratizes access to cutting-edge technology. By lowering the cost to invest and prioritizing remote access to apps and data, users (and businesses) are gaining level footing with larger enterprise corporations. In other words, you don’t have to have a million dollar IT department to have a voice or a technological edge.
4. “The end of ‘Fashion-IT’ — customers will only pay for value and not technology. – Sunny Ghosh, Director and CEO of Wolf Frameworks
Value is the key metric by which technology will rise or fall. Customers just aren’t impressed by bells and flashy lights. It’s no longer cool to have a popular song for your ringtone — what’s cool is your ability to use one device to talk with clients across the country one moment, then preview a document on it the next.
5. “Every kid coming out of Harvard, every kid coming out of school now thinks he can be the next Mark Zuckerberg, and with these new technologies like cloud computing, he actually has a shot.” ~ Marc Andreessen, Co-founder of Netscape, Board Member of Facebook
Cloud hosting allows startups to minimize the cost of implementing an idea. If it fails, they’re not left bankrupt. That lets entrepreneurs cycle through new ideas more quickly, trying out ideas until they hit on a successful one.
6. “If someone asks me what cloud computing is, I try not to get bogged down with definitions. I tell them that, simply put, cloud computing is a better way to run your business.” ~ Marc Benioff, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Salesforce
And he’s right. In a cost-benefit analysis, the cloud offers better tech for lower prices. And that tech makes your business more secure and flexible than ever before. If you can think of it, there’s an app to do it. And if there isn’t an app, there’s a business opportunity to write one.
7. “Line-of-business leaders everywhere are bypassing IT departments to get applications from the cloud (also known as software as a service, or SaaS) and paying for them like they would a magazine subscription. And when the service is no longer required, they can cancel that subscription with no equipment left unused in the corner.” ~ Daryl Plummer, Managing Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner
We’ve written before about scalability, and this is the core of it. Traditional hardware is expensive and ties up a lot of capital — both in the hardware and in the labor to maintain it. Subscription IT and SaaS services create a more manageable, budget-friendly solution.
8. “Cloud computing is empowering, as anyone in any part of world with internet connection and a credit card can run and manage applications in the state of the art global datacenters; companies leveraging cloud will be able to innovate cheaper and faster.” ~ Jamal Mazhar, Founder and CEO of Kaavo
We include this just in case you weren’t sold on scalability yet. If you can imagine something, you can get an affordable infrastructure to attract clients and generate sales. If your idea doesn’t work, it costs very little to abandon it and try a new one. And if you’re really smart, write an app that does a job really well, and enter the SaaS market yourself.
9. “With AWS a new server can be up and running in three minutes (it used to take Eli Lilly seven and a half weeks to deploy a server internally) and a 64-node Linux cluster can be online in five minutes (compared with three months internally)…The deployment time is really what impressed us.” ~ Dave Powers, Associate Information Consultant at Eli Lilly and Company.
We love scalability. This kind of ability to quickly provision a server really lowers the barriers of doing business. This is exciting — technology becomes a business enabler, rather than just a bunch of cool gadgets.
10. “With the cloud, individuals and small businesses can snap their fingers and instantly set up enterprise-class services.” ~ Roy Stephan, Founder and CEO of PierceMatrix
And that’s a good thing. Getting smaller businesses caught up with enterprise-level security will simulate a situation similar to “herd immunity” against computer viruses. It will also create a better ecosystem of applications and services, meaning more rigorous competition — and subsequently, better options — for smaller businesses.
11. “Cloud computing is often far more secure than traditional computing, because companies like Google and Amazon can attract and retain cyber-security personnel of a higher quality than many governmental agencies.” ~ Vivek Kundra, Executive Vice President at Salesforce.com
Ever since the conviction of Kevin Mitnick, the smartest computer users have held a grudge against government agencies. Many hackers — both white hat (ethical) and black hat (unethical) — refuse to work for any government agency. But that’s only part of the reason corporations have the edge in security. The other is that big corporations can get resources without having to wait for an act of Congress.
12. “There’s no way that company exists in a year.” ~ Tom Siebel, Founder of Siebel CRM Systems, speaking about Salesforce.com
We laughed at this one too. It reminds us of the flak Netflix endured when it split off its streaming service from the physical DVD line of business. Or Blockbuster doubling down on in-person movie rentals. Streaming and cloud-hosted services are unquestionably on the rise.
13. “If you think you’ve seen this movie before, you are right. Cloud computing is based on the time-sharing model we leveraged years ago before we could afford our own computers. The idea is to share computing power among many companies and people, thereby reducing the cost of that computing power to those who leverage it. The value of time share and the core value of cloud computing are pretty much the same, only the resources these days are much better and more cost effective.” ~ David Linthicum, author of Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide
This is, in a nutshell, how cloud services work. One company makes the investment of labor and equipment to build, provision, and secure a server facility. That company makes money by renting CPU cycles to clients. Clients get the bulk buying power to access a piece of it.
14. “Discontinued products and services are nothing new, of course, but what is new with the coming of the cloud is the discontinuation of services to which people have entrusted a lot of personal or otherwise important data — and in many cases devoted a lot of time to creating and organizing that data. As businesses ratchet up their use of cloud services, they’re going to struggle with similar problems, sometimes on a much greater scale. I don’t see any way around this — it’s the price we pay for the convenience of centralized apps and databases — but it’s worth keeping in mind that in the cloud we’re all guinea pigs, and that means we’re all dispensable. Caveat cloudster.” ~ Nicholas Carr, author of books about technology and culture
Ah, the old “back up your data” chestnut. Cloud storage is secure, inexpensive, and reliable. But that shouldn’t override common sense; if it’s important to you, save it in at least two places. Especially if you occasionally forget to renew your streaming subscriptions.
15. “We believe we’re moving out of the Ice Age, the Iron Age, the Industrial Age, the Information Age, to the participation age. You get on the Net and you do stuff. You IM (instant message), you blog, you take pictures, you publish, you podcast, you transact, you distance learn, you telemedicine. You are participating on the Internet, not just viewing stuff. We build the infrastructure that goes in the data center that facilitates the participation age. We build that big friggin’ Webtone switch. It has security, directory, identity, privacy, storage, compute, the whole Web services stack.” ~ Scott McNealy, former CEO of Sun Microsystems
For all that, we still haven’t solved the problem of trolls and “first” posts. For all the technology, we’re still humans being human — only now, it’s from long distances and with a permanent record.
16. “In the pre-cloud era, the cost of building software was so high that we often have to define a scope and leave out functionality which we feel doesn’t fetch the ROI for automation. Cloud makes whatever that was previously left out of scope as candidate for automation now! Thanks to simplification, access and affordability brought by IaaS and PaaS.” ~ Suresh Sambandam, Founder and CEO of OrangeScape
Automation is a game-changer on all fronts. Companies are realizing that any task that can be automated is a cost that can be reduced. We like to think of this as freeing up humans for more meaningful work.
17. “Cloud computing is a great euphemism for centralization of computer services under one server.” ~ Evgeny Morozov, author and technology skeptic
We couldn’t put together a list of quotes without one naysayer. While cloud computing might seem like centralization, we beg to differ. The whole point of the cloud is many computers networked together, which by its very nature is distributed. Morozov wants you to believe that the cloud is like a lecture; in reality, it’s more like a cocktail party.
18. “Cloud computing is actually a spectrum of things complementing one another and building on a foundation of sharing. Inherent dualities in the cloud computing phenomenon are spawning divergent strategies for cloud computing success. The public cloud, hybrid clouds, and private clouds now dot the landscape of IT based solutions. Because of that, the basic issues have moved from ‘what is cloud’ to ‘how will cloud projects evolve.’” Chris Howard, Research Vice President at Gartner
Recent polls suggest that most people use cloud-hosted apps and services, even if they don’t realize that it’s part of the “cloud.” Synchronizing browsers, for example. Or watching TV on Hulu. From our perspective, the question about “what is the cloud” has never been really relevant. We skipped straight to “let’s use the cloud to make IT easy for clients.”
19. “In 2000, when my partner Ben Horowitz was CEO of the first cloud computing company, Loudcloud, the cost of a customer running a basic Internet application was approximately $150,000 a month.” ~ Marc Andreessen, Co-founder of Netscape, Board Member of Facebook
Now, you can get all-inclusive IT packages for about $100 a month. Just like cloud services can lower business IT costs through distributed computing power, they can reduce overall industry costs as well.
20. “I started the cloud-computing firm Nerdio to transform the way SMB buys & consumes IT. It can be daunting — it requires high expertise, familiarity with lots of tech, and the vetting and testing of lots of vendors. My decision is to make that entire process completely obsolete — you don’t have to worry about OS, storage, etc., it becomes background, handled by someone else. We’re packaging a whole IT system into something that’s easy to consume.” ~ Vadim Vladimirskiy, CEO of Nerdio
Cloud computing is moving out of the phase where everything is hard and has to be hand-customized. It’s a lot like Linux: still plenty of room for full customization, but with newer packages to make it more easily accessible to a wider audience. (You could also see it as less grunt work to get your infrastructure up and running!)