Friday, August 14, 2009

Cloud Computing: not the same pattern all over again?

Being a consultant in the field of Enterprise Content Management and Knowledge Management (or is it now called E2.0?), one tries to keep a sharp eye on the next thing on Strategic Technologies. Recently, I’ve had the luxury of getting some air instead of being swamped by my projects, so I plunged into the subject again (not sooner, unfortunately); trying to get the latest essence from the overall Information Randomness out there.

As Gartner stated earlier this year, Cloud Computing is, and will be, hot. Hmm: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS. It feels like its to a going to the top of the hype and the labels are rolling over each other and screaming for attention. What ever happened to Mutually Exclusive labeling (or for that matter: Outsourcing)? I mean: SaaS is also seen as a form of Green IT. Okay, that’s true, but an information architect would have sleepless nights trying to find the mother of this taxonomy… I’m still thankful for the rise of the folksonomy as an augment on that one.

Any way, don't get me wrong. In my humble expertise and experience I'm a believer of the notion that the big switch (as Nicholas Carr eloquently puts it) is tantalizing for organizations (or, for the normal human being at home, it’s already in full swing); but is it growing out of proportions? I mean, just a few years ago the statement that you do KM when you “put all knowledge in an IT system” (logically!) turned out to be cutting a few corners, to say the least…

Going from hindsight to foresight, I read that leaders in the field are putting up some warning flares to neutralize the phrase “it’s just like getting electricity out of the wall” a bit.

First of all: if it were true, why don’t we all have it then? Secondly: If you go to Nigeria, as a colleague of mine did, you’ll find out that getting electricity out of the wall isn’t a commodity as one would suggest! Finally, as I stated in one of my Tweets, Cargo transport isn't "just moving something from A to B" either... If you peal the outer layers of the business process, one can see that hauling cargo is infinitely more complex.

The "danger" of using the methaphor like that, is that it might end up oversimplified and then, overhyped.

In my experience I find it remarkable that patterns of (over) hype-ness and oversimplification don’t fade away but tend to rejuvenate with every new instance of the “next big thing”.

Why not really find the benefits of a shift to off-premises information systems? Try to find a correct translation for a business; not a one size fits all. Maybe not all companies should ride this wave (or "stop" at IaaS?). And finally let’s say that “doing Cloud Computing” doesn’t always mean instant “lower IT-costs” or “higher efficiency”. In my opinion it’s a strategical endeavor, and a complex initiative, just like any other one on that level.

Cloud Computing: "It’s not an instant plug-in. But it can be very electrifying".

No comments: