This is a part of an ongoing series in which themes from the Executives Guide to Cloud Computing are illustrated by events in our collective transition to “all things cloud”.
Hardly a week passes without buzz about at least one -usually more – upcoming, uber-cool new mobile device(s), jumping all over one that is coming out right now, or perhaps digesting the one that was hot just before. It seems like product half-lives are down to a month or two (particularly in the Android market); whether Apple can stick to an annual refresh for the iPhone is certainly debate, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Much of this excitement is justified and easily understood … after all, who doesn’t like having what seems like a couple of billion pixels dancing in front of your eyes, or the latest <insert feature here>?
Whatever your current handset preference is mostly immaterial to anyone else – from the macro perspective the rapid penetration of this class of handsets (any OS, from wherever) is a clear enabler for media and other services consumption, and therefore (of course) for their creation.
Still, this is only a small part of the larger picture.
Platforms, Infrastructure, and Contribution
In a similar manner the movement in the ecosystem of cloud services and technologies is both rapid and continual – from pure-play public infrastructures, to private infrastructure enablement, to the emergence of strong cloud application platforms as a key for any serious enterprise strategy – the breadth and depth of progress is indeed meaningful and encouraging.
Much of this was on display at Structure last week … a real sense of inevitability is growing here as well.
For that matter the new thinking of the other-than-relational data store world may ultimately be more individually significant than any of the rest of this … that is why the a couple of years ago we (at Appistry) began extending our platforms into reliable, commodity-based storage (tightly integrated with the larger platform, of course). Conference after conference highlights newer data and app frameworks for big data. For that matter, it’s hard to enter into too many conversations about actual, intensely-scalable apps without quickly focusing on serious data issues.
Still, this too is only a part of the larger picture.
Fundamental changes in how cloud-based stuff is built, distributed, monetized, and otherwise sliced and diced has been, in many ways, some of the least anticipated yet most crucial features of the broad transition to cloud. For example, entire ecosystems driven, at least in part, by fine-grained advertising long ago passed from novel to given.
In another example, consider the rise of relatively controlled, device-specific application stores. Early last week Tomi Ahonen did a long, well researched post which makes these case that device-specific app stores (and their apps) offer intrinsically bad economics for developers.
… don’t invest in it (apps and app stores) today.. Put your creativity and investment into the real money opportunities, remember Pop Idol simple SMS votes earning half a billion dollars in USA this year alone..
Upon first read this conclusion didn’t seem right, and upon second read it bugged me a bit more. Andrew Odewhan nailed what was bugging me in a good bit of analysis. From that post
What the App Store did brilliantly is create a marketplace that anyone with the appropriate skills can enter. The development tools are free, the membership dues are cheap, and Apple’s 30 percent take seems pretty reasonable when you consider the frictionless access to a global marketplace they’re providing.
While this still is not the whole story, now we’re getting much closer to a more complete picture.
Cloud and Confluence
When embroiled in the the chaos of any one of these it’s easy to lose sight of the meta-shifts that are in progress, and in particular what they mean collectively.
What is most significant in the ongoing transition to cloud is not any one of these changes – be they new infrastructure, pay-as-you-go models, eventual consistency data models, or any of thousands of other items, meaningful as they may be individually – but rather, the confluence of all of them.
It is the confluence of all of these changes that are, together, enabling an entirely new possibility for computing. From the Execs Guide:
Computing—computation, storage, communication—is relatively free, scales up or down as needed, scales as much as needed, operates itself, and always works.
which then leads to a basic shift in what is possible for the organizations that embrace “all things cloud”. In particular, this shift enables …
A reality in which the organization can be largely freed from the traditional constraints that computing has placed on all for so long—constraints based on the cost, availability, capabilities, and the difficulties of using computing-enabled stuff.
and that is a reality worth making real.