Breaking News: The Cloud is, in Fact, Cloudy

Judy Scinta wrote a piece published October 13 by the Buffalo Law Journal on the topic of cloud computing use by local attorneys. The article reveals a certain murkiness to the cloud and a somewhat gray color in various areas. There is no mention of the cloud’s incredible fluffiness or its many areas of whiteness that peak out from behind the sun at businesses, letting them know there is a clear, blank space in which they can store their data.

In fact, the universally unhelpful answers provided by the experts Scinta interviews point to a truth about new technology that is often left undiscussed: no one seems to want to simplify explanations so that we all know what we are talking about. Distributed virtual computing is a vast sea of possibility. There is no reason to focus on the gray areas. Let’s just stop being confused all the time. We need to put on a strong front so that our children don’t grow up thinking they were adopted by aliens.

I’m taking this somewhat random piece from a local trade publication to better understand general conversation related to this innovative computing model. Let’s explore section by section to see what went wrong in Buffalo, other than the 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns in 2009 that Jeff Pencek of Bleacher Report called “the worst game ever” and a “craptacular”– the latter a term typically used by zoologists to describe monkey habitats.

Cloud Specialists Think Journalist is Asking Too Many Questions

(Disclosure: Before I begin, I must admit that I will not be able to be as critical as intended of Judy Scinta’s report as we would all like, assuming that we all like a good witch hunt. Like writers sometimes disclose stock ownership in a story about a corporation, I must admit my mother’s name is Judy, and that she’s harmless, and that everybody had better leave her alone.)

Scinta mentions, aptly, that there was a simpler time for the word cloud: it used to just be a big thing in the sky, used as a metaphor by the Rolling Stones to refer to their awesomeness.

She writes that we are told that the term’s entrance to the world of technology framed it as “a limitless storage space for electronic data for business and personal use” in a physical location that is faraway, undefined, and unimportant, like Area 51 ever since we all realized that there is nothing creepy going on there whatsoever.

Scinta writes that the clean, simple concept of cloud computing is wrong. It’s not possible to put this technology into a “neat package with a bow on top.” Technologists and attorneys might get very upset if we were to use a clear and concise working definition. None of us wants to have to deal with a grumpy IT guy or lawyer, so we should walk on eggshells around them – oops, my foot just crunched an eggshell!

Expert #1 – IT Perspective from David Nellis

David Nellis, a sales manager at midsized New York IT provider Synergy Global Solutions, said that his company sometimes works with attorneys. His description of the cloud is first that it is broad in scope, applying to individual software as well as entire computing environments – the infrastructure underpinning an attorney’s entire system. Nellis said specifically that the technology involves “access to applications via the Internet that are being hosted somewhere else.” He emphasized that companies were using their own in-house private clouds to maintain data security.

First of all, sure, it comes in many flavors, but let’s not talk about the flavors and then gloss over the general definition of ice cream: it’s unfair to the lactose-intolerant. Cloud systems aren’t just stored “somewhere else.” They are stored in a vast network of servers. That’s really the key point. If not for the vast network of servers, if it were just some undefined remote location, that would not be so efficient that one computing expert says it typically outperforms supercomputers.

Also the discussion of private and hybrid clouds (the latter of which integrate public and private solutions) often fails to recognize that like any infrastructure, those systems are offered by hosting services too. You don’t have to expose yourself to risk simply by “relying on somebody else’s hosted solution.” Nellis makes it sound as if you have to decide between the public cloud and building your own datacenter.

Expert #2 – Law Perspective from Thomas Popek

If you thought technologists were obtuse and sometimes failed to convey the point related to a particular solution (i.e., that groundbreaking speed and agility don’t just arise from the cloud being in a different location, since all that does by itself is create latency), Scinta’s discussion with a lawyer will be even more disappointing. Get ready for a good, slow, frustrated headshaking.

Scinta said that Thomas Popek – an attorney with Phillips Lytle LLP who focuses in part on tech – looks at the cloud as “more of a philosophy” than something that is completely definitive.” Go ahead. Roll your eyes. Or don’t. I just rolled my eyes three times now, so two of you are already covered.

Popek explained that if you talk to ten firms, they will each have their own description of this type of technology. Here’s the thing: in that scenario, nine of those firms would be a little bit wrong. You can’t have an industry that doesn’t have a basis. What is the philosophy, exactly? “Make the data move fast”? “Get the data away from its users”?

Straight Talk About Innovative Tech

Allowing conversations on technology to be so vague is dangerous: we could all get lost in the fog… I mean cloud. “Where am I?” I might ask you. All you could reply, sadly, would be, “Somewhere else.”

The reason why 94% of companies (RightScale 2014 State of the Cloud Report) now have cloud solutions in place is that the cloud is mind-blowingly fast, scalable, and affordable. Let’s talk straight, people. We do. As customer John Zortman said of our support team, “You cannot improve perfection.” Get your cloud server now.

By Kent Roberts

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