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I’m Clouded Out

I’m at the Interop Conference in Las Vegas right now. I got here yesterday afternoon, and from the moment I checked in for the conference to now I have been amazed to see the number of times the word “cloud” is being used in signs, vendor booths, and conference talks. I’ve written previously about my extreme contempt for this trite and nearly meaningless buzzword, but the recent barrage of the use of this moronic term has started to push me over the edge.

I was walking down the hall of the Mandalay Bay Hotel (where the conference is being held) and saw a big poster for the conference “cloud camp.” A “cloud camp?” You’ve got to be kidding. Here is a snippet from the cloud camp description:

“CloudCamp is an unconference where early adapters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions…”

Hmm, an “unconference.” I hate to be overly critical, but “where’s the beef?” Perhaps that is why it is called an “unconference?” Or perhaps they are revisiting the 1960’s with discussions of “whatever is meaningful to you.”

We all know that when users connect to a large percentage of resources, they are “visiting the cloud.” From a security perspective, once your computer connects to anything outside a network that is under your organization’s control, your security-related risk generally rises appreciably. And we’ve all used “cloud-based” services such as web hosting services and SalesForce.com for many years. And please also remember that each email message goes “into the cloud.” whenever you send a message via your internet service provider.

Oh, by the way, not to be outdone, a conference titled “Cloud Computing” is being held in the fall. You can be sure that I will not submit a paper proposal to that conference.

I have attended Interop-West for several years straight now. One of the big changes this year is all the vendor booths in the expo area that have “cloud” in their names. I saw one vendor hawk a “cloud accelerator.” Another talked about cleaning up “cloud residue.” Agh!

And then I talked with someone who asserted that “cloud computing” is the latest revolution in the IT arena, perhaps because his company offers a variety of “cloud services.” I tried to get him to explain the specifics, such as how “security in the cloud” can be delivered. He simply replied that all you have to do is make a “private cloud” available to whoever needs higher levels of security—unbelievable!

I concede that the concept of “cloud computing” is not all bad. It can, for example, drastically cut the cost of services. I heard an executive of a software company say that his company found a “cloud service provider” who charged substantially reduced prices for a service for which he had been paying considerably more for years. At the same time, however, it was clear that he didn’t really know very much about the service, let alone understand the associated security risks.

Cloud computing is leaving us all in a fog. It is well past time to move our focus to something else—pleeeease!

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