Do you qualify for cloud status?

The road to the cloud

This is probably the most emotional topic right now in what should really be a pretty unemotional business. It seems as though recent attention in the mainstream press to the nature and risks of cloud computing, in the most general sense, has crystallised a whole lot of nascent reservations and puzzlements in the non-network nerd population (More than 99 per cent of humanity) over what it is that People Like You and I actually do. And how we think.

To be brutally frank about it: the vast majority of people have come to the autumn of 2013 in a completely contradictory state of mind. Network people and networks have become increasingly vital, and also increasingly unnecessary.

It seems inevitable that this complete schizophrenia, this bizarre clash of two emergent trains of thought, is going to be something that the long-suffering network admin is going to have to help the man in the street or more importantly, the boss in the boardroom unravel. We have to put in a bit of time without our network sniffers and management software, and instead, sit and listen, making reassuring noises and nodding a lot.

The trains of thought I am considering here look quite separate when you think about their starting positions. One is all about cloud as a distant, perfect, free, infinite service. It's likely that most net users run their private and family lives on services like these. In short; everyone's got a Gmail account, or something that looks and feels that way. Everyone is slightly mystified by how these things manage to be free, and there lies the start of the trouble.

The other train of thought concerns the cost of computing. Money is a touchy subject. There's no way around it. The way that different scales of money are spent under different headings frequently leads to tantrums. I come from an era when a pay differential of a few pennies an hour would motivate entire workforces to take to the street with banners high, and I'm frequently bemused by the absence of that kind of free expression today.