In a recent article published at Forbes.com, HP executive Russ Daniels penned an interesting piece called A Cloud In Every Garage. I have to admit that on reading the title, I thought I was in for a train wreck. The article looked to be positioned to follow the same mis-guided notions of “a cloud” as just another piece of infrastructure that is becoming so commonplace with vendors and the customers who listen to them (i.e. the customers who will follow them like lemmings right off the cliff into the next generation of vendor lock-in). I sat back to read it and was ready to write a rebuttal that explained that if cloud computing is just about next generation infrastructure (and buying into vendor “clouds”) then what is the big deal? I mean, advanced Data Centers have done that for quite a while now. And even more, virtualization customers have had this capability for some time as well.
But, I had to put down the pen. Not only does Russ know that cloud computing is not about “clouds” and “virtual server infrastructure”, but he also gets that new ways of opening up innovation and growth are right in front of us. And that is the premise that the article actually lays down. Russ gets at the point that while use of standard virtualized technology underlies the concept of cloud computing, the real value comes from all of us seeking to use shared cloud services on massively shared and standard public cloud infrastructure to gain economic and efficiency advantages while refocusing most of our attention on our core-competencies. He uses the automobile industry as an example of how mass-production, standardization, and entrepreneurship can be used to grow business and to create new capabilities for those who need them. He says it all in the following quote:
“In my view, the ability to facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship in this new model is one of the most promising ways to ignite the next wave of economic growth. We can no more see the full impact of the cloud than Henry Ford foresaw the impact of his desire to produce more cars in less time.“
— Russ Daniels
You go, boy.
Now I won’t say the article delivered on the depth of promise that I think Russ is implying but neither does it settle for the standard mis-guided mantras. I have found that out of all the major vendors, HP has one of the best visions of what cloud computing is and can mean to the world out there. Their real problem is in turning that vision into a set of offerings that they can sell to their customer base without compromising the vision. No easy feat.
But then they keep swinging with notions like those in the article. It really sets up a very nice “industrialization of IT” kind of theme and I was turned around – loved where it was going. Even if it did start looking a little like an HP ad in the latter half of the piece, it was still a refreshing take on a subject (cloud computing) that I fear is spiraling towards a mediocre return on a promising investment in a new style of computing.
Those enticed by cloud computing should aspire to something more than just an incremental technology evolution led by IT. Thanks, Russ, for the aspirations.
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