HostingCon was interesting this year, as a lot of people, pundits and prognosticators who may have previously dismissed The Cloud as nothing more than hyperbole and the crafty re-packaging old services were now enthusiastically singing its praises. Everyone is singing a different tune, however, as there is still very little agreement on exactly what The Cloud is.
But there were some cloud epiphanies to be had. For instance, while I was having lunch one day after listening to my third or fourth cloud talk, I came across some kids who were perhaps unwittingly demonstrating The Cloud with their lunch: a three pound OMG! burger.
Why is the OMG! like The Cloud? Because it’s something that we’re all familiar with on a scale that few of us could actually consume. Eureka! The Cloud explained in one sentence.
Yeah, very funny. Now what is the cloud? Really.
“What is The Cloud?” is the million dollar question with a million different answers. Every cloud talk, and all three of the HostingCon keynote speeches, attempted to define The Cloud, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they all had a different definition. And to complicate things even further, what consumers think of as The Cloud and what professionals in the industry think of as The Cloud can be very different things. The Cloud from many industry standpoints typically consists of a grab-bag of upwardly or downwardly adjustable resources delivered instantly, or based on need. But at one cloud panel we were informed that research into the public’s view of the cloud seems to indicate that people believe The Cloud is multiple data storage locations, multiple data backups and infinite amounts of available resources. Among other things.
That disconnect between what we think and what our customers believe is potentially the biggest problem that we all face. Much of what was discussed at HostingCon were ideas around how hosts can sell their services in a way that aligns with the consumer’s ideas, perspectives and demands. “Hey, your customers have been hearing about The Cloud and now they want The Cloud. So what are you waiting for? Sell them The Cloud!” If you don’t, the intimation was, you’re going to be left in the dust. Or in the mist, so to speak. I didn’t hear anyone suggesting exactly how to go about that, what with the different perceptions and all, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people from trying.
And as it turns out, sometimes just trying is enough. All the discussion about The Cloud over the past few years has everyone thinking and plotting and scrambling to come up with new services and techniques, and at the end of the day, and whatever you call the results, that’s a good thing for everyone. How many of those new services and techniques prove to be valuable to our users is something that will ultimately be decided by those users. As providers we can throw 100 different “clouds” against the wall, but which ones stick is ultimately up to the people who pay our bills.
So where does DiscountASP.NET fit into all of this? Well, we have some definite ideas about how we would define and provide cloud services, and it’s something we are actively developing. What we want to avoid though is rushing out a cloud solution that is just an OMG! burger topped with delicious, melted buzzwords.
As a modern philosopher and vagabond once said, “the future is unwritten,” and to me, that is one of the greatest things about doing what we do.