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I just got an email talking about “the year of the cloud.” I call shenanigans.

YearOfTheCloudYou see, I remember back in the olden days (back in the 1980’s) when magazines and industry luminaries would regularly declare each year to be “the year of the LAN.” And none of them ever were “the year of the LAN.”

I think the cloud is something that will become an entrenched part of business gradually – not in a burst of glory. Why? Here are a few of the reasons I see:

  1. “Let someone else go first.”

    Before vast herds of businesses go running to the cloud (a buzzy term for a technology system many IT execs don’t yet understand), they will want to see that others have done it an not gotten burned. This is classic bell curve stuff – a few will do it, but it will be a while before the majority of the IT orgs use the cloud in any significant way.

  2. “We’ll get there…”

    It’s a well-known fact that people move away from pain and toward pleasure (at least most people do). I think people will move to cloud-based infrastructure and services in the course of normal business changes, not just for the sake of moving to the cloud. That alone will make this a gradual, deliberate shift.

  3. “We’re not quite sure how to use it yet…”

    Many organizations will need some kind of a ‘killer app’ to help them a) understand the value of cloud-based capabilities, and b) mobilize the budget and force of will to change habits, culture, tools, skills, etc.

  4. Hype cannot always move a nation

    Before the repeated “year of the LAN” declarations, I saw another set of declarations telling me the US was going to move to the metric system (this was a big topic in my Weekly Reader newsletter in grade school).

    Has that happened? No, we still use non-metric units for most everything in the US. Do I wish it would happen? Yes.

    This shows me that inertia is a powerful thing, and large-scale change is hard to drive. On the plus side, we don’t have to change road signs and clothing sizes to move to the cloud, so I think it will take far less time than the US’s move to the metric system.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the cloud (we’ll end up calling it something else, I bet) will eventually become pervasive just like LANs and other types of networks. We’ll eventually overcome most of these objections and move to service-oriented, off-premise infrastructure & applications. It just won’t happen overnight.

Now, I just have to wait and see if I’m right. What do you think?