James Governor's Monkchips

Three Better Ways To Tell Its not Cloud Computing?

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First we had 15 Ways, then we had 16 Corrections, then 15 Ways I am Wrong, and now we have 3 Ways. What would Martin Luther have done?

Staffing Software Talk takes a very hard-boiled and boiled down approach:

For those of you not already plugged into this latest addition to tech jargon, you can read more about cloud computing here. But actually I wouldn’t waste your time. If you’re over 50 just think “service bureau”. 30 to 49, think “Application Service”, and 20 to 30 “SAAS (Software As A Service)”. If under 20 then cloud is everything you need in your online life – amazon, ebay, facebook, myspace, gmail.

Gregg certainly has a point that there is “nothing new” about the core concepts behind cloud, although I would argue its reimplementation of these ideas which gives them their current strength. I also think its notable that Gregg’s definition points to an age-related segmentation. I have to say that Gregg’s leap from there to 3 Ways To Tell Its Not A Cloud didn’t really chime with my understanding.

1. If it leaves you with unintegrated systems, it’s not cloud computing.
2. If it leaves you with non-revenue generating IT and data entry staff, it’s not cloud computing.
3. If it doesn’t eliminate your paper processes, it’s not cloud computing.

1. I disagree because of David Weinberger’s core Web design pattern of Small Pieces, Loosely Joined. Often integration is left to the user, which is no bad thing. Cloud componentry should be loosely-coupled, taking advantage of service orientation. Of course integration-as-packaging has value, but we must be careful not to simply recreate monoliths in the cloud.

2. Not all powerful and useful cloud services will be “revenue generating”. Take data archiving for regulatory purposes for example, which is a necessity but doesn’t drive revenue. Data Backup is another extremely useful cloud service. It may not drive revenues but its vital to a business.

3. I like the promise behind this definition, especially given the dog’s breakfast state of so many of our paper-based processes, but it ends up feeling more like Office 2.0 than cloud to me. Clearly IT should help to remove laborious paper-based processes, but arguably that’s true of any application, cloud-based or not.

Gregg, Jeff and Eric have all helped to advance my thinking on the cloud subject, as have Hugh, Nick, Tim, Tim and Stephen. Its time (if I can find some) for a significant update.

picture courtesy of Wikipedia via the US Library of Congress


  1. “Fully cloud-compliant” could be a nightmare of a campaign in future. Just like slapping a 2.0 on the end of any other process makes it suddenly great (office 2.0, marketing 2.0, finance 2.0).

    Many of the processes and transactions that make business work will require an increasing reliance on “cloud” resources. However, unless there is going to be some sort of “standard,” it will be up to the vendor to set out what they mean by “cloud” and the customers to decide whether they buy it.

    I personally think the “standard” is the web itself, and that any added value applications/services should augment this.

  2. The elephant in the room (or the cloud?): What is seriously lacking in any of these points is the discussion of the “transport layer”. Historically we have not had service clouds but rather tethered balloons. The ubiquitous internet was not an effective transport mechanism to deliver services so point-to-point circuits were used to tether balloon services directly to their customers. There were no useable WiFi, broadband, cellular networks. Flash forward to today… those tethers have been cut and the service clouds are now free to soar to anyone, for anyone. Anywhere, anytime service is now a reality and to quote Mr. Carr “IT Doesn’t Matter”. So my hypothesis is that if IT Does Matter – it can’t be a cloud.

  3. Excellent post!
    Boy, we read about Cloud Computing lately, won’t we?
    Two often debates on it:
    – Is anything new?
    – Security/Privacy

    It feels good to read about it in a new way. Simply love this whole part:

    “If you’re over 50 just think “service bureau”. 30 to 49, think “Application Service”, and 20 to 30 “SAAS (Software As A Service)”. If under 20 then cloud is everything you need in your online life – amazon, ebay, facebook, myspace, gmail.”

    Just as easy as you can get! Brilliant!

    So, again, I believe that Cloud Computing will affect users as they let to. There are many tools/services available and it’s up to each one find something to suit a personal/professional need.
    Keep data in the cloud doesn’t necessarily means to drive all your personal content into it. It should be taken as an extra benefit for remote access from any computer.

    Probably what we all got to benefit the most comes to the great apps available around the web and turning the computer use into a big Web OS:(and in here I’m very into with Webtops – icloud, for instance http://icloud.com/maisa/) instant and free access providing all the tools to create and share content.

    I personally see it in a very positive way and believe that great improvements will be achieved. Specially about security (all the big companies behind it have A LOT to loose if Cloud Computing doesn’t turn into a safe bet).

    Linked your post on my blog as a reference. Please, if it bothers you in anyway, let me know and I’ll make sure to remove it!


  4. @zach we tend to think cloud standards, defacto and dejure, are going to be essential underpinnings for a growing market. of course these standards will build on the web. but we need onramps, offramps, identity flow etc.

    @thebruce i think you make the point perfectly. the tethers are uncut. I like your definition, even if it feels a bit circular “my hypothesis is that if IT Does Matter – it can’t be a cloud.”

    @maisa thanks for the post. i should probably look into the iCloud offering.

  5. […] for any decision taker. It was for me until I read today’s post by James Governor entitled:  Three Better Ways To Tell Its not Cloud Computing? James has been running a series on this topic, attempting to put different angles (mostly […]

  6. […] The discussion about what cloud computing is over at James’ blog is still raging. […]

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