Cloud computing is an evolution not a revolution

OK so the cloud is a revolution right? This is the most revolutionary computing delivery model to ever hit the planet and some of the most recent developments are truly astounding. Rackspace has launched a UK cloud data centre to address European compliance issues, is leading a successful charge on the market — and the Amazon Elastic Beanstalk is the most creatively branded piece of technology since the ‘Game and Watch’ edition of Donkey Kong.

Well, not quite.

Service director at analyst house Quocirca Clive Longbottom points out that cloud computing is not necessarily a “new” technology per se. Essentially it is an evolution of the old application service provider (ASP) model, but this time with standardisation and an improved business model — and this is what has made it work so well this time.

“Applications towards the end of the 1990s were still pretty proprietary, which had driven the rise of enterprise application integration (EAI), and this made the provision of services from within a hosted environment very much a one-to-one affair – just a hosted application, rather than a hosted service,” says Longbottom.

“The applications were also caught in a licensing trap: the majority of applications required the user to own the licence, and so a mismatch was created where the hardware, the operating system and the application server were owned and run by the service provider, whereas the application licenses were owned by the user, but the application was managed by the service provider. The cost model just didn’t stack up and over 90% of ASPs went to the wall when the .com and telecoms bubbles burst in early 2000.”

So what has changed?

“Open source means that many cloud solutions aren’t hobbled by licensing issues, and even commercial vendors are moving towards true service provider licenses, where the service provider owns the licenses and can decide how to charge these on. The majority have moved to either a straightforward subscription model, or plumped for a transaction-based one,” added Longbottom.

You can read Clive Longbottom’s full piece here entitled, “Cloud – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”