Cloud
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10/17/2008
07:48 AM
John Foley
John Foley
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InformationWeek Launches PlugIntoTheCloud.com

Is cloud computing the next major IT model? Or a rat's nest of security vulnerabilities, service outages, policy complexity, and vendor lock-in? The computer industry is split on The Cloud, with believers and skeptics arguing both sides. Now InformationWeek is diving -- skydiving -- into the fray.

Is cloud computing the next major IT model? Or a rat's nest of security vulnerabilities, service outages, policy complexity, and vendor lock-in? The computer industry is split on The Cloud, with believers and skeptics arguing both sides. Now InformationWeek is diving -- skydiving -- into the fray.I'm pleased to announce the launch of PlugIntoTheCloud.com, InformationWeek's new Web site devoted to news, analysis, and opinion on cloud computing. We created it to address the growing need among IT pros to better understand what this trend means to them and their companies. Just this week, Gartner listed cloud computing second, right behind virtualization, on its list of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2009.

Our research tells us that business technologists are intrigued by cloud computing, but not yet swayed. InformationWeek Analytics (our in-depth reports business) surveyed 456 business technology professionals to gauge their plans for cloud computing. Among the respondents, 20% were considering cloud services, while another 28% said they didn't know enough about them. In other words, nearly half are still mulling it over. Of the rest, 18% said they were already using cloud services and 34% had no interest.

What the heck is cloud computing? There's no single or simple answer, which is part of the problem. Opportunists are latching onto the term in all kinds of funky ways, while some industry veterans argue it's a new buzzword for something they've been doing for years. There's software as a service, storage as a service, CPUs as a service, and platforms as a service. Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora, which offers billing and payment services to SaaS providers, even talks of organic vegetables as a service. Hewlett-Packard has coined the term "everything as a service."

No wonder people like Larry Ellison are getting ticked off. A few weeks ago, Oracle's CEO went on a rant about cloud computing, calling it "gibberish" and "crap" -- then quickly adding that Oracle plans to do more of it. Shortly thereafter, free software flag bearer Richard Stallman called the cloud "worse than stupidity."

I'm on the side that believes there's something real and important in cloud computing, though I don't buy the argument that it will replace corporate data centers. Small businesses can already do all or most of their computing in the cloud, but the bigger a company gets, the harder that becomes.

We're still in the early stages of all this. The big IT vendors are scurrying to get in on the action. (See InformationWeek's Guide To Cloud Computing.) Startups are crowding into the market, too. (See 20 Cloud Computing Startups You Should Know.) Over the next few weeks, Microsoft and Salesforce.com will be introducing new-and-improved cloud services and strategies.

There's a lot going on, and InformationWeek and other TechWeb editors are going to be busy covering it all right here. Whether you think cloud computing is an IT breakthrough or vaporware by another name -- or are still trying to figure that out -- we invite you to join the discussion at PlugIntoTheCloud.com.

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