Since the term “cloud” was adopted by the IT industry, it has become a buzzword abused by businesses as diverse as service management providers, vendors, resellers, and just about any companies offering some form of Internet based service. Nobody wants to be the unpopular, backwards kid on the block, still toting a flip phone while all of his friends buy smartphones. So today, everything is in the “cloud”, and everybody has to have one or become one.
As it creeps cancerously across the market, cloud computing has become a popular guise to spice up plain old outsourcing. Online outsourcing has been around almost as long as the Internet, and includes such simple things as email providers and file hosts. In 2010, BBC news published an article on cloud computing. The article used Rentokil Initial as an example of a company that used cloud computing, after it moved its email services to Gmail.
But email providers and cloud services are clearly not the same thing. Email providers such as AOL, Yahoo, and Hotmail have been around since the earliest days of the Internet. If a journalistic agency as highly respected as the BBC is capable of making such a mistake, then the average business owner is no more likely to know his way around the cloud market.
This glut in so-called “cloud” services has caused major confusion about a market that is still widely misunderstood even in its proper form by consumers. Oversupply in the cloud market combined with consumer ignorance has served to reduce the quality of true cloud services, and stunted the supply for growing demand in the areas where the “cloud” is still weak. These include security, redundancy, data protection, interoperability of cloud services, and more.
But while abuse of the term “cloud” still abounds, large companies haven’t turned a deaf ear to the desires of consumers. Major companies who are now offering forms of true cloud service, such as Google, AWS, VMware, and IBM, are starting to meet the market’s demand for cloud services with these qualities.
This trend is likely to have a unifying effect on the cloud industry as a whole. It is inevitable that the consumer market will be drawn to the larger companies who are filling the need for security and reliable standards, coaxing smaller companies down the line to adopt these new trends. Companies will start to reach agreements, co-operating much as cell phone carriers do to quickly transfer customers and assets between each other.
True cloud services should emerge in stark contrast to the charlatan “clouds” so-called, sharpened by the adoption of industry standards governed by a controlling body. These standards should help to protect continuity of services even in a bad market, and will finally free cloud services from ambiguity to pursue genuine innovation, and a competitive edge, unhindered by the shifting sands on which this market now rests.