It’s not about what’s different, it’s about getting on board with the changes in the game or get left behind.

People say, “What’s so different about Cloud Computing?”, “This is nothing more than managed hosting or mainframe computing redux”, “what’s old is new again”.  What was it that Gordon Gekko says to Jake on the subway in “Wall St.: Money Never Sleeps?” oh yeah, “a fisherman can always see another fisherman coming.”  Technically, Cloud may be perceived as only incremental changes over what already exists, but those that argue that Cloud is just hype have already missed the bigger picture—the game is always changing and this is the next major change.

In this case, the game has shifted from the infrastructure and applications matter to data matters.  The players driving the Cloud revolution have initiated the path to commoditizing the rest of the computing universe and all you should care about is the data and the services that operate on that data.  Computing hardware was already heavily commoditized, but, up to a few years ago software was still the realm of the wizards.  With the emergence of cloud computing delivery models—IaaS, PaaS & SaaS—consumers now have value-based vehicles to select from to support their various computing needs from do-it-yourself (DIY) to do-it-for-you (DIFY).  This was a realization that just occurred to me in this past week; cloud computing brings IT into the realms of Pep Boys and Home Depot.

Those of us that come from engineering backgrounds often miss the subtle drivers that move the universe and may even question how these changes come about.  Let’s face it, you can’t talk about this scenario without referencing VHS vs. Betamax.  There are a group of engineers that have been employed by the market makers to bring about this revolution.  I regard this move as the chess players moving the pawns on the board.  These market makers see a world that they could have a piece of if they could bring about the vision in their head, so they employ smart people to push the bounds of what can be done and raise the bar to new extremes.

Do you think the Amazon Web Services cloud is perfect?  It’s a work in progress.  I guarantee if you check service levels within a large-scale deployment against current levels within well-staffed, well-managed data centers, you will see more failures in AWS then you have in the past five years in the data center; and that’s okay because we’re in the midst of the game changing.  I had a CEO in one my startups that used to say, “by the time we have 50 customers our first 5 customers are going to hate us and leave us.”  The reality of this is that that group, no matter how special you treat them because they were first are going to live through significant pain working with you through a game change.

What’s really interesting about this change is the support from the public sector.  What traditionally has been a laggard in information technology, in my opinion, is turning out to be one of the strongest driving forces behind this game change; this really turns the concept of market makers on its head.  After all, it’s easy to comprehend where the game is going when Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Jeff Bezos, etc. are the market makers, but considering that U.S. Federal CIO is also part of that group means that the scale of the market driving the change is considerably larger than anything we’re used to seeing.

While maybe not readily apparent, because market makers are primarily focused on the private sector, direction is most often not influenced by acquisition policy, congressional politicking, military and intelligence confidentiality requirements, or Presidential races.  The landscape of this market once filtered through the lenses of these and other factors will have grown significantly faster and offer a great deal more variation and value.  More importantly, and we are seeing this happen already, it will be more open and transparent than past market changes.

So, technically speaking, it doesn’t matter if Cloud really offers a revolutionary change over what we already had because in the minds of the masses, the change is real and it’s happening now.  The question is, will you figure out your role in the changed game or believe the game change will fail leaving you unchanged?

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