Stephen Foskett (@sfoskett), organiser of the Tech Field Day events, writer and speaker considered whether cloud will be the next IT silo. We looked at some highlights from his discussion:

He began by asking: when it comes to the cloud, what happened to the ‘Neanderthals’?

  • People had and have a strange reaction to the cloud, ranging from scepticism and fear, to the irrationally exuberant
  • In a similar way, many now believe that over time the diverse Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens evolved to become a mix of each other: this idea is where cloud meets IT
  • Cloud will not destroy conventional IT or the other way round. One day we’ll wake up and things will have just evolved

Back in 2005 people were largely oblivious to the cloud and what was coming. IT was doing its regular stuff with servers and storage. Cloud apps were being developed with no regard for what had come before – they were a new species. What cloud developers came up with looks nothing like enterprise computing of the past.

By 2010, Stephen recalls that he was trying to prevent people from being scared of the cloud, that it would cause people to lose their jobs, that there would be no more data centers.  This was just as ridiculous; the mainframe still exists, most critical IT systems in the world are mainframe apps and probably will be for a long time to come.

Now, in 2015 there are people who passionately love the cloud – its gone from an idea that ‘Godzilla is attacking’ to the coolest tech topic around.  That seems irrational too – its out of touch with the way things work. Why? The cloud is ill-adapted to many traditional applications which enterprises use. You have to figure out the balance between the two.

As for the future – you will know the cloud has succeeded when nobody uses the word anymore, when it’s just a decision you make, rather than something pivotal and life-changing. It won’t be a binary choice anymore.

But today, we have public cloud, private cloud, but there is also another class of systems which are ‘cloudy’ – neither one thing or another. These are hybrid.

What is a hybrid?

Is it the one thing that does everything? Is it the fruit salad tree – a hybrid that grows many different type of fruit on one tree? Hybrid cloud is something a lot more nuanced, and we’re going to see different traits emerge in applications that will get us to a hybrid solution without even knowing we’ve gotten there.

For example, storage is getting ‘cloudy’ and getting there at different speeds. In time there will be a whole spectrum of cloudy storage products and services.  At the moment S3 is a dominant, high profile example, but is just one of many.  But perhaps the most telling illustration of cloud storage acceptance is online photo storage – Apple’s app has no storage interface – you take a pic and it goes into the cloud. It just is.

A lot of people feared that cloud will ‘destroy’ IT in the same way that the PC revolution changed things. In reality, people use products like Dropbox and Salesforce primarily because they are very good products, not specifically because they are cloud-based.

But the IT function is slow to adopt new technologies such as cloud. Hybrid cloud is not out to destroy conventional IT – it’s about enabling a seamless path between the data center and the cloud.

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