The real reason for cloud computing

At the recent RSA Conference, cloud computing was one of the topics that everyone was talking about. In every talk that I sat through at the conference, I heard a single reason being given as the big driver for cloud computing, and that's the unresponsiveness of corporate IT departments. I heard this reason given again and again, and I didn't hear any other reason proposed as a serious alternative to it.

Business units need to get their job done and they're apparently told fairly often by their IT support organization that the resources that they need to do this either aren't available or that the support that's needed will be extremely expensive. Faced with an IT department that either can't or won't support them, many business units are using cloud computing as a way to bypass the troublesome support organization.

This is more than a bit like how corporate IT departments came to support WiFi, isn't it? In the early days of WiFi, the IT departments didn't want to get involved with the technology, but people started using it whether or not the IT department had any say in the matter. After a year or two of this, IT departments had to get involved, and now the technology is ubiquitous.

There are good reasons not to use cloud computing for some types of data: there may be regulatory compliance issues if some types of data are put into a cloud, and there are still security issues that aren't fully addressed. But despite these problems, it certainly looks like cloud computing has found a niche, and that IT departments will have to deal with it.

Come to think of it, this may actually be the same path that almost all new technologies follow: the people that need them find a way to use them, and it's only much later that the new technologies are understood well enough to be accepted by the people whose titles begin with the letter "C." I can't think of an obvious counterexample.

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