Combating the Cloud Computing Skeptics

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A commentary on InfoWorld’s website today caught my attention and compelled me to quickly respond in this space to try to once again set the cynics straight about the viability and business benefits of cloud computing.

The author of the commentary entitled, “Confessions of a cloud skeptic”, suggests that the only thing new about cloud computing is the false promise that you can move an entire data center operation to a third-party hosting facility.

I believe the author of this column got the newness re: cloud computing entirely wrong. It is the opposite which makes cloud computing special.

Specifically, it is the hyper-elasticity and self-provisioning capabilities which make cloud computing disruptive. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has pioneered and dramatically changed the way compute power is packaged, priced and delivered.

As a result, organizations and even individuals can now purchase compute power in tiny increments to meet their specific needs. This mitigates many of the risks associated with traditional hosting and IT outsourcing which entailed long-term contracts and inflexible services.

It is the new cloud computing packaging, pricing and delivery model which is attracting companies of all sizes to augment their operations, and in some greenfield cases even run their entire operations, on third-party Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions.

These IaaS offerings also represent a model for success which many enterprises are trying to emulate in the form of internal clouds.

While relying entirely on a third-party cloud services won’t be feasible for most organizations, that doesn’t discount the tremendous value cloud services provide. Obviously, organizations must still enter into these arrangements with open eyes regarding the risks. But, most companies who have been among the early adopters have come away pleased, and are planning to expand their use of cloud services, and are even becoming net-promoters of these services.

As the cloud computing success stories multiply, I challenge the skeptics to find many publicly reported horror stories about cloud computing service failures which suggest organizations should move in the opposite direction.