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Cloud confusion? Does not compute

Madhubanti Rudra writes for about last week’s Cisco Live event that confusion may still linger over what, exactly, cloud computing is.

The survey revealed that a clear understanding about the actual definition of cloud technology is yet to arrive, but that did not deter 71 percent of organizations from implementing some form of cloud computing.

The survey was conducted by Network Instruments from the show floor; 184 respondents with, presumably, no other agenda than to get to the drinks table and gawk at the technology they probably wouldn’t buy.

Network Instruments pitched the result of the survey as confusing. But if we look closer, were people all that confused? I don’t think so. Just the opposite, actually, and it remains to be seen why Network Instruments would spin results to suggest people weren’t hip.

Meaning of the Cloud Debatable: The term “cloud computing” meant different things to respondents. To the majority, it meant any IT services accessed via public Internet (46 percent). For other respondents, the term referred to computer resources and storage that can be accessed on-demand (34 percent). A smaller number of respondents stated cloud computing pertained to the outsourcing of hosting and management of computing resources to third-party providers (30 percent).

Let’s see; about half think cloud computing means IT services available on the Internet — that’s fair if you include Software as a Service, which most people do. About one-third narrow it down to compute and storage resources available on-demand — that’s a loose working definition of Infrastructure as a Service (and Platform as a Service, to some extent) and also perfectly valid.

Another third think it’s about hosting and managed services, and they could definitely be described as “wrong,” or at least “not yet right,” since managed service providers and hosting firms are scrambling to make their offerings cloud-like with programmatic access and on-demand billing. But that bottom third is at least in the ballpark, since cloud is a direct evolution from hosting and managed hosting.

So what these results really say is that the great majority of respondents are perfectly clear on what cloud computing is, and where it is, and even the minority that aren’t, are well aware of its general proximal market space (hosting/outsourcers) and what need it fills.

I don’t see any evidence that the meaning of cloud is up for debate at all.

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