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Cloud computing: Why we hate it, why we need it

Services just keep coming for the cloud

The industry's chieftans express disenchantment with 'the cloud', but the services keep coming. We look at why we hate cloud computing, but why we need it too.

But what about specialised internet-based services that add new, advanced capabilities?

Call them cloud computing or not, but such extensions make the value proposition a little more interesting: all the benefit of zero-footprint deployment, plus capabilities that would be difficult to obtain any other way.

I'm thinking of a recent conversation I had with Irfan Kahn, CTO of Sybase. He was talking about columnar databases - an old idea now gaining adoption for analytical applications - and map-reduce distributed processing techniques.

Standard, SQL-based databases have well-known performance constraints. So why not just upload your SQL data to a specialised processing service in the cloud, have the provider convert it to 'NoSQL' format, and run the job in a fraction of the time it would take you?

Eventually, I think cloud-based development platforms will also provide capabilities you'd be hard pressed to get elsewhere.

Salesforce's Force.com already offers a unique platform for building multitenanted applications, which are recently enhanced by Flash capabilities supplied through a deal with Adobe.

We're still waiting for Microsoft's Azure to take off, but if it ever gets packed with component services supplied by Microsoft and third parties, it could provide a richer development environment than you could ever provision yourself.

It may be that that the cloud label is approaching its expiration date - and it's fair game to make fun of mundane offerings suddenly sprinkled with cloud fairy dust.

But as advanced technologies become more and more complex, plugging into them through internet-based services may well be the fastest and most cost-effective way to exploit their power.

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See also: The 7 biggest problem areas of cloud computing

  1. The services just keep coming for the cloud
  2. Specialised internet-based services

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