I get a Google Alert in my email every morning on "cloud computing," and I'm continually amazed by some of the simplistic headlines I see with articles trying to explain what the cloud is or define basic terms — stuff you would imagine we all understood years ago.
I get that not everybody lives on the bleeding edge where journalists often like to sit, but eight years after I first heard the term "cloud computing" I'd think we would all understand what it's about and that it's become part of just about every company's technology strategy.
When every technology vendor claims to be a cloud company, we must have reached a tipping point, especially when that includes old-school hold-outs like Oracle and HP, which both claim to be all about the cloud (even as they still sell on-prem hardware and software).
The first time I heard the term cloud, I was at a conference in Boston in 2008, and there was a panel made up of representatives from Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, and Google. There they were, these cloud companies built from the ground up.
That was where I first heard the cloud explained. It was also where I heard the first objections to the cloud from a roomful of skeptical IT pros who questioned the security and privacy implications. I would keep hearing those objections for the next five years.
I often wondered what people didn't get about the cloud. As one person explained it to me early on, it's like getting electricity from a public utility. You could have your own generator, but it makes so much more sense to let someone who understands electricity deal with all that while you concentrate on what you do best. Let's face it, most companies should not be worried about maintaining their technology stack when there are service providers who can do it for them.
Yet for a long time, the cloud was seen as a something you might try for certain things but not as part of an overall technology plan. I wrote a column in 2011 called Why is the cloud still getting special treatment, where I wondered when we would finally accept the cloud as a normal kind of computing choice like client-server without a lot of discussion about it.
Entering the mainstream
Then a few years ago, it began to change. Sure, there were still some loud objections at conferences, but the number of companies using the cloud began to outnumber those that were staying away. Forward-looking CIOs began to see the cloud's promise, and things began to shift. As the saying goes, it changed slowly and then quickly.
Over the past 18 months, we have seen surveys confirm what many of us who watch the industry suspected—the cloud is firmly ensconced in the mainstream of most businesses today, both large and small.
There are still questions about how to make the various cloud bits work with the on-prem pieces and how to get it all moving together, but these problems persisted in the days of proprietary on-prem vendors too.
One thing we can all agree on today is that we have reached the point where we understand that the cloud is the real deal, and as we head into 2016 we don't have to defend or explain the cloud as a computing choice anymore. It's simply part of any computing strategy, just as I thought it would be.
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