The Wisdom of Clouds

This first appeared in TechLeader, June 2008

I have this credibility problem with cartoons where, when they regularly reach behind their heads/into their coats, they tend to whip out gadgets/weaponry that outweigh them and flaunt Newton One to Three.

For storylines, its weak. But for concepts like storing terabytes of data and other objects off your local grid, its incredible. And that’s cloud computing, or SAN (Storage Area Networks).

Sign up with a provider of massive amounts of data and processing power, and simply call their services to do the processing, storage, business logic where applicable. It works on a pay-as-you-go model, and is free in some cases.

The best known cloud providers are Amazon Web Services and Google Appengine. It stands to reason, these guys have massive networks of servers that never run at 100%; they may as well tick over while standing “idle”.

If you tweet, use Facebook or Yahoo! apps, you may see the flicker of aws.amazon.com in your status bar, as resources get pulled in. Salesforce is termed a cloud application, as the data, logins and modules are all on various servers far from your office or project.

Nice application

An idea I like is having a cloud at home. No synching between digital camera, PVR, notebook and other consumerist gadgets. If you have wifi at home, simply navigate to the folder from any device. Brilliant. No cables.

Take-up

Powerful. Looking at how nervous MS Office is about online documents (Google, Zoho, Salesforce) is an indication. There are operational risks, and no, Twitter’s essential services don’t run off AWS. At the end of the day, one is party to a contract with a massive going concern.

This closing paragraph links back to the first, to round things off in a homely, Readers’ Digest, kind of way. Can you use cloud services in your enterprise? Is there space for a South African entity to offer this here, and in the continent?

Me, I like my Belgian or British cartoons. Those with credibility gaps I can bestride.

About Derek

My key interests are online investor relations, websites, social media, enterprise 2.0 and intranets, and XBRL. Speak to me if you need a solution in any of these disciplines, or follow my knowledge links on this site and others. Find me on Twitter, LinkedIn or in recent conversations.