Cloud Maturity: Just Like the iPhone, There’s An App For That…
I was brainstorming a couple of Cloud things with Doug Neal and Mark Masterson the other day and whilst grappling for an appropriately delicious analog for Cloud Computing, my 5-year old approached me and asked to play the “burping beer game (iBeer)” on my iPhone. Aha!
Whilst I have often grouped Cloud Computing with the consumerization of IT (and the iPhone as it’s most visible example) together in concert in my disruptive innovation presentations, I never really thought of them as metaphors for one another.
When you think of it, it’s really a perfect visual.
The iPhone is a fantastic platform that transforms using technology that has been around for quite a while into a more useful experience. The iPhone converges many technologies and capabilities under a single umbrella and changes the way in which people interact with their data and other people.
In some cases we have proprietary functions and capabilities which are locked into the provider and platform. We pay for this forced allegiance, but we tolerate it as necessary. We also see the inventiveness and innovation of people for whom brute forcing their way into openness with jailbreaks is a reasonable alternative.
There’s lots of ankle biting as vendors and providers clamor to bring the familiar trademarks of the iPhone to their own platforms. There are marketplaces being built around these platforms to open up new opportunities for collaboration, applications and experiences with the, gasp!, phones.
It’s true. The iPhone is, at its heart, a phone, and we’ve had mobile phones forever. Some complain that the iPhone is nothing more than a smartly packaged combination of technology we’ve already had for ages and that thanks to Moore’s law, we’re able to cram more and more stuff into smaller and smaller spaces. That logic therefore dictates that the iPhone is the mini-me “mainframe” of mobility. And millions buy it still. It’s like technology timesharing as the phone, Internet and mobility capabilities all compete for a timeshared swath of space in my pocket.
Yes, that’s right. The iPhone is simply timesharing of functions on a phone. <snort>
To the detractors’ point, however, for all the innovation and exciting capabilities the iPhone brings, it has and continues to suffer from some seriously goofy limitations that in other platforms would be game stoppers, but people settle anyway, waiting for the technology to catch up and dealing with the implications as they become important (or not.)
The best example? Cut and paste. I had freaking cut & paste in my Newton 15 years ago. The lack of C&P made certain things unusable on the iPhone let alone inconvenient and even insecure (having to copy and write-down complex passwords since I stored them in 1password, for example.)
However, I’ve purchased each revision of the iPhone as it came out and have been incrementally giddy with each new hardware/software combinaton, especially with the 3.0 software upgrade which finally gave me my beloved cut and paste ;) The reality is that there are probably better solutions for my needs, but none that are so damned convenient and sexy to use.
The thing I love about my iPhone is that it’s not a piece of technology I think about but rather, it’s the way I interact with it to get what I want done. It has its quirks, but it works…for millions of people. Add in iTunes, the community of music/video/application artists/developers and the ecosystem that surrounds it, and voila…Cloud.
The point here is that Cloud is very much like the iPhone. As Sir James (Urquhart) says “Cloud isn’t a technology, it’s an operational model.” Just like the iPhone.
Cloud is still relatively immature and it doesn’t have all the things I want or need yet (and probably never will) but it will get to the point where its maturity and the inclusion of capabilities (such as better security, interoperability, more openness, etc.) will smooth its adoption even further and I won’t feel like we’re settling anymore…until the next version shows up on shelves.
But don’t worry, there’s an app for that.