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The Cloud

By Steve Jones,

I like the cloud. It's very handy for a lot of the things I do. I like having backups restored for my iPhone upgrade. I appreciate having my documents synced through Evernote, Dropbox, and OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) automatically moving to new machines. These services are incredibly convenient and handy. I expect that my mail will be accessible from multiple machines and my blog posts can be created, edited, and published from anywhere. Many of us work in a similar fashion, using the cloud as a service construct in much of our lives. In fact, many of us expect our own knowledge will be supplemented by the cloud. We use Google to search, getting us syntax,  solutions, or ideas from sources that we expect to just be there.

Someone was talking to me about their concerns with the cloud recently. This person thought the cloud would be a fad that passes quickly and businesses will get back to owning, hosting, and managing their servers from the bare metal up to the network connection. I disagreed, and not because I use the cloud personally.

I remember setting up a web server in 1996 for a company. I remember installing an email server in 1999. I would never do either of those things again for my own company, and I wouldn't expect it from most companies. These days we've learned that email can easily be handled by a third party and more and more companies are using email services instead of managing their own systems. Web servers are mostly a shared service that we rent from any number of other companies, sometimes even stitching together a presence across multiple providers. Even many companies that want to manage their own host operating system are turning to third party companies to manage the hardware and networking. More and more we accept renting the things we need from others.

We'll get there with databases as well. Not all databases, but more and more of them will be hosted at third party companies. Whether this is in some type of VM environment or a service that hosts data, it will still be hosted at a third party. We will have concerns and we will have reasons to not do this, but I think for more and more of our data, we won't care.

Companies have lots of systems in place. They have legacy investments in infrastructure and facilities. In those cases, it's hard to justify the cost of cloud computing. However as we grow into new areas, or with new companies, we'll have to re-evaluate whether it is a good idea to continue to make those investments. As the management of software grows to allow the quick scale up and down of assets, I think we'll be much more likely to consider moving applications into the cloud than ever before. 

We'll never be 100% in the cloud, or out of it, in the future, but increasingly, we'll be partners with the cloud.

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