Set the wayback machine for 1996 – the year of the Intranet. Sometimes I feel like we have gone back in time (“Life on Mars” fans, anyone? Bummed that it was cancelled, but I digress…). Back then I wrote a research note titled “The Top 10 Intranet myths”. The Internet wave had crested and companies were atwitter about the use of the concepts and technologies internally. The term intranet (which still is in popular use) emerged to describe the phenomenon and the resulting hype was deafening. Kind of like today’s hype over ‘private clouds’, which are analogous to intranets in that they are supposed to mean some kind of use of public cloud concepts and technologies internally.
In the 1996 note, myth number 10 was
“The existence of ‘the intranet.’ While ‘the Internet’ certainly exists, use of the term "the intranet" is misleading and indicative of the level of hype the term has generated. In fact, by YE96, we would not be surprised to see some well-meaning person write, "With the success of corporate intranets, we may see them connected someday." Presumably into “the Internet”.
I wrote that somewhat tongue in cheek. I don’t think that it ever happened, but an analogy is happening today.
A few weeks ago, Cisco’s James Urquart told me about their cloud strategy and use of a term ‘the inter-cloud” as the evolution of private clouds connected together. My mind flashed back to 1996. While doing my daily skim of the interblogs today, I came across A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Inter-cloud and the flashback recurred.
I do not mean to diss James or Cisco – I believe they are indeed, well meaning, and indicative of a view of cloud computing that evolves from the infrastructure/data center perspective. And it is yet another example of why terminology matters and why we talk about there being one cloud ( a euphemism for an abstraction ) and frown upon use of “clouds”, in the plural sense. The world of cloud computing has become so cloudy and the terms are becoming so confusing that I have to wonder if we will ever get past it.
Maybe if I fast forward to the year 2020. At least my vision would be perfect.