Gospel of Cloud – Beware False Profits


So this week I’m really busy recording and releasing podcasts on iTunes which are replacing the directly hosted podcasts that you’ve been able to grab from here over the last four months or so. I’m also attending a few cloud things, most noticeably the EMEA OpenStack Conference at The Mermaid on Wednesday. I’m going to be taking some mobile recording gear with me and am recording a couple of podcasts with some people for release in short order.

So in preparation for this and also for some recording I’m doing today I was doing my reading this morning and making my notes, my handwriting at the best of times looks like your doctors. Except a doctor on opiates I’d guess. I’ve always found that Aspergers is a blessing in most aspects of life as a techie but in hand to eye co-ordination for note taking or any form of short hand trust me it’s an utter pain. There are often times when I look back at meeting notes and wonder who wrote my notes me or a spider who has evolved a new ability to master using a ballpen.

So today I was looking at the revenue figures and estimates alike from both the Cloud gliterrati and the analysts with their “proven finger in the wind” methodologies of telling us how much one aspect of Cloud or one particular type of Cloud technology is going to contribute towards global IT spend. Makes mental note to Google where they get their crystal balls from as I am coming up stumps what to get my wife for Christmas this year.

There’s one article you don’t see appearing from the IT journalist community,  one byline that doesn’t leave the MacBook Pro of the analyst hunched over his latest prophecy. I live in hope of one day reading it. Knowing this column does get read by journalists and others in positions of stature in the print and online media maybe this can serve as a clarion call – a call to arms if you will.

In this halcyon lucid article an analyst will pick over the realities of how the adoption of locked in building bricks of a Cloud technology platform reduces the ability of the service provider tier to make real attainable revenue. He or she will “in an almost Moses Moment” realise that the last time we were at this point in the creation of the building bricks of the internet the behemoths of the traditional computing world were trying to enforce Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange as the way to communicate. That to get to the baseline we had to sign a “licencing agreement” for every client we attached to a service. We all know where that ended up. Had the internet been entirely built on Windows rather Linux where would we be with regards to technology adoption, creativity and the services we consume and the underlying technologies that underpin them ?

Cloud as you know it, as we know it is not a virtualisation layer or a fabric architecture built around proprietary locked down standards. Cloud is Open. If you invest in proprietary locked down technologies “that also interact with open APIs and standards” what does that say about your own understanding of technology advancement or the direction you want your company or platforms to take ?. It’s akin “to playing catch up”. What does that say about your companies position as a thought leader or being able to get the best out of your platforms ? Not a lot in the bigger scheme of things.

I am therefore waiting for the lightning bolt of reality to strike when the analyst brave enough to stand up from the masses with hand outstretched to the heavens having clicked that Cloud is actually built of the “Lego” building blocks developed in the Open, developed and fostered by the Community, polished and honed in a supported manner by specialist organisations but evolved by everyone – including you – who provide contributions, commits, documentation and importantly credibility.

A polite note to analysts. Shrink wrapped software providers make gross revenue profit from shrink wrapped boxes that do one thing. They shrink wrap in the secrets and they form the brick walls that prevent longterm growth. Thats the case whether you’re talking the secret recipe for a southern fried chicken fast food brand or a specific type of cola in a red can. Whilst being proprietary never did their sales much harm they were joined in their respective markets by other players who provided alternatives. However that is where this analogy ends.

Here’s the magic bit.

In days of old innovation was secured by intellectual property and shrink wrap, EULAs and the need to maintain world order. Cloud came out of the Open Source innovation model, if we examine the components of Cloud it’s actually built around the Open Source model.

The proprietary vendors whose revenue estimates or guesstimates make up the wild and crazy predictive revenue figures really do nothing for the credibility of Cloud. Are they supposed to increase our ability to want to spend or to feel braver to go to our CFO cap outstretched to make a budgetary demand for “Cloud” ? Personally they reinforce a realisation that all the time analysts are doing their whole predictive piece that the worker ants and the movers and shakers in technology are actually doing the important stuff. We are busy evolving standards openly, we are pushing the latest builds of Puppet or Boxgrinder, the latest OpenStack build, the latest OpenShift update, busy designing and releasing more mature ways of doing interoperability with CloudForms or looking at how we secure our very Cloud experience with SELinux.

Analysts whilst the Open Source community can’t write cheques to pay for your conferences and justify your expenses you need to realise that the actual difference between that world of old, of proprietary being the primary world order awaiting the catch up of those copying in their wake – it’s over.

The Cloud world order is the primary piece in the technological food chain and it’s actually the proprietary vendors  who are playing continual catchup whilst hoping customers won’t mind paying the technology adoption costs of being consumers of stuff that will forever be following the trail, not blazing it.

False prophets ? False profits – I’ll let you decide on that one, I’m just the evangelist.