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I've got some real problems with this "Cloud" verbiage


Cloud. That place where stuff just magically works, and your phone calls and other telephony (data) traverses. Borrowed from the PSTN back before divestiture which happened in 1984, we referred to the cloud as the nebulous identity of AT&T’s infrastructure. We have point A, and we have point B - and everything in between the Demarcs of those two points was defined as, “The Cloud”.

We didn’t need to know anything about it - it just worked. AT&T owned all the copper, and it was their infra. We were responsibile for everything on our premises up to the Demarc, and after that, it was in AT&T’s hands - the cloud.

Now, we use it as a buzzword. It means NOTHING, and nothing has changed in thirty years. Cloud is simply a buzzword, like, “Intranet” (When was the last time you heard that one?), or “ASP” (Application Service Provider", the latter of which we now refer to in terms of it being a verb - SaaS.

I like SaaS, I like IaaS, I like PaaS. They’re descriptive acronyms for something that is descriptive of a model of data processing - Cloud? it means nothing. It’s just a marketing term used by non-gearheads for remote computing on the Internet (often, using a browser over HTTP or some other client-server relationship), or it’s used to describe remote near-line storage in a hosted environment.

Think about it. If you’re MTA isn’t actually running on your laptop or desktop or phone, then it’s in the “Cloud”, even if that SMTP server is simply down the hall in your closet under a pile of musty clothes you haven’t worn since the last time you had to clean the rain gutters.

Nothing has changed in over thirty years, except for the way it’s marketed to the uninitiated. A co-located server isn’t a host on the Internet anymore, housed in a datacenter, it’s “In the cloud”. Your remote backups aren’t on a backup server in the rack next to the one that contains the server you’re backing up from, it’s, “in the cloud”, I defy anyone to produce an example where cloud computing isin’t simply what we’ve been doing online for 30 years, since severing the RS-232 ports to the mainframe on the other side of the building and started using NE2000 NICs on PCs to connect to remote file servers… In the Cloud?

I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts and comments on this notion, that there is no cloud, separate and distinct from anything we’ve been doing in recent memory. Sure, I can quantify what it is, and indeed, I’ve actually had to embrace and use that term as someone who provides “Cloud Hosting”, but really, just what does anyone think that the “Cloud” is, that isn’t something we’ve been doing already for dozens of years?

I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions, and if for no other reason, just to make it more palatable for me to digest when I invoke that term, feeling like a liar selling vaporware.

Kindest regards,

Bradley D. Thornton
Manager Network Services



Hey @tallship! I really enjoyed reading the thoughts you shared! Thank you for piping up and engaging the New Relic community.

I, like so many others, simply accepted “the cloud” verbiage without really thinking about what it means, implies, etc. I think your post here is excellent “food for thought” and I can’t wait to hear what the rest of our community has to share on the topic. AND I really hope this post is around long enough to see the inevitable change to a less magical, more deliberate term for what we mean when we say “cloud”. :wink:

I have relocated this post in our more conversational category for that exact reason: let’s have a conversation!