Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 16, 200811:52 PM

Cloud Computing And The Nervous Marketer

There is some great weekend reading all about how our data is moving on up to the "cloud" (the Internet). We're freeing data from one or multiple physical locations and moving everything we have on to the information superhighway. Before I go into the links or Blog about why this is going to make Marketers uber-nervous, here's how Wikipedia defines "cloud computing":

"The term derives from the common depiction in most technology architecture diagrams, of the Internet or IP availability, using an illustration of a cloud. The computing resources being accessed are typically owned and operated by a third-party provider on a consolidated basis in Data Center locations. Consumers are not concerned with the underlying technologies used to achieve the increase in server capability, and is sold simply as a service available on demand. The label 'cloud computing' is not the same as the business model of software as a service or the usage model of utility computing."

Why have software installed on a computer when you can log on to the Internet and have all of the software (and your data) right there for you to access as needed?

It seems logical enough.

What's most surprising is that is leading the way.

"There's a name for this: cloud computing. Or less poetically, utility computing, or even the unfortunate acronym HaaS, meaning hardware as a service. Whatever it's called, Jeff Bezos is loving it. On a sunny winter day, with Mount Rainier and the Olympic range on spectacular display, the bald billionaire sits in a conference room in the converted VA hospital that serves as Amazon headquarters. He's ticking off all the reasons why Amazon Web Services and its industrial-strength suite of online processing power, storage, and other geeky treats are the best thing to come out of the company since 1-Click. AWS capitalizes on Amazon's combination of computational skills and operational savvy. It piggybacks on a multibillion-dollar IT infrastructure. And it pulls in a whole new category of customers looking for rock-solid scalable computing on demand — blue-chip startups like Zillow and PowerSet, kids in garages building the next Google, even adventurous corporate IT jocks looking to offload some of the drudgery."

That quote is taken from the May issue of Wired Magazine in a must-read article titled, Cloud Computing. Available At Today. There's also a similar story published in the Globe and Mail supplement magazine, TQ, called, Head In The Clouds, by Six Pixels of Separation friend, Matthew Ingram.

"There are drawbacks to keeping all of your data in the cloud, of course, and one of the main ones is that you can be cut off from it at crucial times, either because you are without Internet access or because the cloud you're using is unavailable. In mid-February, for example, Amazon's S3 service was offline for several hours due to a problem with the company's authentication server. While the service was restored relatively quickly, a number of companies found their own services affected because they couldn't access data stored on Amazon's servers. No doubt many of them decided to create copies of their data somewhere else as a backup (if they didn't have one already). Backing up data is also something that most experts would recommend for individuals using cloud computing."

Yes, this is going to make Marketers very nervous. We don't know where all of the data "really" resides. There is a security risk. There are technological challenges. But, that's nothing new, and it's nothing that we're not currently grappling with. So, while this might freak out some, I'm hopeful we all see the benefits of moving from hard-drive-crashing laptops and servers where everything can (and does) get lost, to thin client terminals that empower you to connect and have access to everything from anywhere.

And if the topic really piques your brain (as it has with mine), you should check out the book, The Big Switch, from Nicholas Carr or attend the free online event from Google next week called, The Big Switch - How Cloud Computing is Transforming IT, where you can hear from Carr directly.

By Mitch Joel