The oft-used axiom “hindsight is twenty-twenty” is proven once again . With 20/20 vision looking back over the previous four years, 2008 through 2011, perspectives on cloud computing come into sharper focus. There is no question “cloud computing” is a revolutionary advance in the way businesses and consumers utilize computing resources. And all the previous technology “revolutions” that preceded the cloud were required in order to make cloud computing a reality. By previous revolutions I mean the Internet/Web, open source, cheap and reliable bandwidth, and commodity priced hardware. If back in 2004 one had an astute crystal ball peering forward into 2012, the natural leading edge thinking would have seen that cloud computing was the inevitable conclusion of all the afore mentioned “computing revolutions.” Plus the crystal ball would have given us a glimpse of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Werner Vogels plotting their disruptive cloud mission.
In 2008 SaaS startups were “glamoured” by the cloud. Especially by startups where founders had previously created SaaS applications that required building dedicated hosting infrastructures at great expense and distraction. The cloud looked to be a panacea for all the hassles of operating a data center. Need more compute, just make an API call and a new virtual computer comes to life. Need more storage, make an API call and terabytes of quality file systems are yours for as long as you need them. But what was unknown about the cloud, and not clearly visible in the 2008 crystal ball peering into 2011, is that the easy parts of the cloud started to work against our collective best interests. With dedicated hosting, the simple act of “adding more infrastructure” had an established purchasing approval workflow; budget with the CFO, negotiate price with the vendors, track UPS shipments, and pay an invoice 30 days later. That’s a lot of friction in a fast paced environment, but the purchasing controls (in hindsight) created an accountability layer the cloud lacked.
For the Sonian project, we needed to create purpose built tools to help manage costs and reduce complexity. Some of these tools will be open sourced in a “pay it forward” contribution to the community. Adding to this, the industry is starting to see startups emerge that focus on cloud management systems. The cloud solves many pain points, but the cloud itself has pain points too. The eco-system around cloud computing is innovating quickly and it will be exciting to see what comes next.
Despite the learning curve, mastering the cloud for the right use case is worthy of any and all efforts. The cloud, combined with the right use case, and now the right tools, puts all the right incentives in place to deliver customers “more for less.” Who doesn’t want that in this current economic climate?