Quite often I find myself talking with people who get caught up in the hype of the latest technology fads. These fads or buzzwords often generate a high level of public awareness (and misunderstanding). People are afraid to get left behind. Cloud computing, which really isn’t all that new, is one of those buzzwords. I get asked a lot about cloud computing, and I get a sense that a lot of people are afraid that if they don’t look into it, they will be left in the dark ages. And keeping with this month’s theme: This scares me!
As I reflected on this topic over the weekend, I recalled a time in my distant past when I worked for IBM. I was asked to make a presentation to a county Board of Directors on why they needed to upgrade their mainframe computer to a newer model. The day before my presentation, the IT manager called to inform me that one of the board members had hired a college computer science student to give them a proposal. The college student’s solution consisted of a network of 30 personal computers. (Keep in mind this was 30 years ago…computer networking was not much more than informal file sharing). Not only was his solution less expensive, the board members were somewhat enamored with going with the “latest and greatest technology” – Personal Computer Networking. The IT manager also reminded me to keep the presentation non-technical since most of the board members were farmers.
As I presented to the board the following day, I shared with them a conversation I recently had with my dad:
My dad was a farmer and was always intrigued by what I did. He would read all the latest news about personal computers and about how great, fast, and cheap they were – i.e., the hype. They even won the 1982 Time Magazines “Person of the Year” award.
He asked me one day if I ever worried about my job, since PCs were going to take over everything. After a few seconds, I asked him if he thought I could hook up my sports car to the plow, and plow the field. He laughed (rightly so!). I said “why not?” My car has more horsepower, and can go faster than the tractor. He simply stated that the car wasn’t designed to pull the plow. Interesting – so you’re telling me that the tractor has better gearing, hydraulics, better tires, (and so on…), so that’s what makes it better to pull the plow?
It’s the same way with computers: PCs are good at doing one thing – they can add 1+1 extremely fast! But, they are not good at doing multiple things at the same time. They can’t share information or work with other PCs effectively. Mainframes are designed to be Business computers. They balance the user access, the processing, the data storage and the output that a company requires to run their business. The list went on, but I think you get the idea.
The board signed the order for the mainframe upgrade that day.
So, back to the topic. New technology can be exciting. You do need to be aware of what’s out there…what the latest buzzwords are. Just make sure you put things in the correct context as to how they will help you or your business grow and become more productive. Don’t fall for the hype just for the sake of hype! A qualified IT service provider should (and will) provide you a solution to your problem, not just sell you technology.
And just what the heck IS cloud computing??? Scary.