Clueless CIO cloud confusion continues

Top CIOs are still puzzled about what the cloud is. What rock have they been hiding under for the last decade?

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Oct. 21, 2016

Credit: Pixabay

You have got to be kidding me. At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, the research company’s annual enterprise IT conference, Gartner vice president David Mitchell Smith said, "In many ways we’re nowhere nearer understanding what cloud is." Oh, come on!

The year is 2016, but Smith continued, "There are still a lot of gray areas and blurriness in the cloud business.” He thinks 80% of vendors’ “private clouds” aren’t strictly speaking cloud, along with 30% of public cloud services.

Listen, if you’re a CIO and you don’t know what a cloud really is by now, then you should be fired.

Unlike what Gartner said, most of you do seem to get it. A recent Uptime Institute survey of 1,000 IT executives found that 50% of senior enterprise IT executives expect most IT workloads to be running on the cloud soon. Of the respondents, 23% expect the shift to happen next year, and 70% expect it to occur within the next four years.

What is going on, and does confuse things if you’re not paying attention, is that many vendors just stick a cloud label on their old offering and expect you to buy their “new” service. This is called cloud-washing. Companies slap a new coat of cloud paint on any old program or service, add 10% to the price, and call themselves a cloud company. I’m looking at you, Oracle.

But Oracle isn’t alone. For example, Adobe Creative Cloud isn’t a cloud. It’s a software rental licensing business model. True, you can share files with its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) storage, but you could always do that with network file sharing or third-party cloud services such as Dropbox.

If you think there’s a Photoshop in the cloud, you’re wrong. To use Creative Cloud, you download a fat client to use it. Despite the name, this is not a software-as-a-service (SaaS) play.

If you’re a system admin who’s nervous about losing his or her job, I can understand pointing out such examples as proof that cloud computing is just marketing hype. I expect better from CIOs.

I mean, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defined cloud computing for us in 2011.

Doesn’t ring a bell? OK, here’s a refresher.

NIST tells us: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

NIST continued to say that a cloud must have five essential characteristics: On-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity or expansion, and measured service.

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