Cloud Computing Looks to Generate Some Thunder in 2009


Cloud computing is a broadly defined concept that is slowly changing the way organizations operate and the way IT thinks about itself. This long and insightful piece by The Associated Press discusses the concept in great detail.


The writer says Genentech, a biotechnology company with 16,300 employees, is the largest company that so far has opted for Google's cloud for desktop applications. It still will use Microsoft software for some functions and the piece notes that the company's CEO is on Google's board.


The article provides a good description of the concept and major players such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite. Those who stand to lose the most-Microsoft, SAP, Oracle -- also are discussed. The bottom line clearly is that cloud computing is here to stay, but that legacy approaches are far from dead.


This briefer look at cloud computing positions 2008 as a year of transition. It condenses the important announcements that were made. Microsoft, which obviously sees that cloud computing is a big threat to its desktop productivity software empire, launched Windows Azure. The program enables developers to write for a Microsoft cloud. Announcements also were made by AT&T, VMware and IBM. Collectively, these announcements make it clear that the cloud is moving into the corporate area.


Big concepts-and cloud computing is a very big concept-generally are introduced in a generic and generalized manner. As time goes by, the overall idea is refined and subdivided into a number of different approaches and categories. This commentary, which links to the executive summary of a Forrester report on which it is partially based, suggests that there are two types of clouds. One seeks to replace device-based applications and the other to concentrate a great amount of computing power.


In the first case, a company might replace its individual versions of a word processing program with one stored in the cloud. In the latter case, a pharmaceutical firm might amass huge lots of number-crunching CPUs to research a drug. The obvious point is that these are very different uses and, thus, different skills will be needed from vendors, consultants and others to make each work.


Here is more good detail on the cloud ecosystem. The first part of the story reiterates the point that the emerging platform is extremely broadly defined. It also has not come from out of the blue: There are many elements that have been kicking around for a while. The piece discusses Azure, XO Communications' Concentric, AT&T, Verizon and Cisco. The feature is followed by a sidebar that discusses the challenges in cloud implementation. These include laws in some places that mandate that user information doesn't leave the country; the difficulty of integrating multiple services and multiple clouds; how to guarantee accessibility and the need for standards.


This rPath video is perfect for IT to send to an executive who is curious about cloud computing. It is short-about 4 1/2 minutes-and sums up the antecedents and possible future of cloud computing. It also is entertaining. The piece says that several elements coalesced to give cloud computing life, including inexpensive broadband, virtualization, software-as-a-service and utility computing.


There is general agreement on the state of cloud computing: It is a big deal and still in its formative stages. It appears that 2009 will be a pivotal year as vendors and service providers refine their plans.