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Cloud is Bigger Than the Internet - I

It's More Profound, and Not Really Like Electricity in the Final Analysis

There, I said it. I wasn't the first--a couple of guys funded by Google speculated in March 2009 that cloud computing "could be" bigger than the Intertubes.

And I'm sure there are hundreds of you out there, if not more, who have voiced this opinion to colleagues, in a blog, or maybe in a corporate memo that's been ignored completely.

Someone else said that cloud will be bigger than we can imagine. This is not true and not possible. Nothing created by humans is bigger than we can imagine, because we imagined it.

The universe is bigger than we can imagine, to be sure. I'm not even sure if the universe is finite, infinite, or one of those mathematical infinities in which some infinities are much larger than others (think irrational numbers vs. rational numbers).

Even the manner in which we humans misuse new technology shouldn't be bigger than we imagine anymore, given what we've learned from The Manhattan Project.

I certainly don't want to sound glib along the lines of "The Internet changes everything." I was never sure what that was supposed to mean. The Internet didn't change the laws of physics, didn't change past historical facts, and certainly hasn't changed fundamental human nature just yet.

Plus, sounding glib in a blog would make a travesty of all the deep, considered thinking that goes on in the blogosphere.

So, back to the statement: Cloud is Bigger Than the Internet and Web.

Why?

Because as the much-smarter-than-me Nicholas Carr (among others) have pointed out, Cloud will turn IT power into a measured, utilitarian commodity. "Yes, IT does matter" was, of course, the rhetorical answer to Carr's provocative article "Does IT Matter?" a few years back. It matters in the way electricity matters.

IT does not matter in the water matters, because we can live without electricity but we can't live without water. So we'll limit the utility analogy to electricity.

Electricity, once it was standardized on a national basis, captured, and distributed more-or-less safely, has indeed transformed society for the better.

Electricity spawned innovation. For the good--safe and reliable lighting, furnaces, numerous labor-saving devices, and radio. For the bad, television. For the in-between, air-conditioning and cellphone/blackberry/iPod chargers.

Cloud will spawn similar innovation. Companies will no longer have to devote such a large percentage of their effort to keeping HAL in line.

Hand those hassles over to someone who can make money providing reliable computing power, and now you're freer, ie you have more resources, to think of all the good things you should think about.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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