I read Dave Malcolm Surgient’s blog on the characteristics of cloud computing. As cloud computing still remains nebulous, this kind of clarity helps everyone understand it a little better. He talks about five characteristics, which I list here:
Characteristic 1: Dynamic computing infrastructure
Characteristic 2: IT service-centric approach
Characteristic 3: Self-service based usage model
Characteristic 4: Minimally or self-managed platform
Characteristic 5: Consumption-based billing
I was particularly struck by Consumption-based billing. What a great idea! When was the last time you paid for a generator installed by your utility? When was the last time you paid for the cable laid by your cable television company? And yet we continue to pay for the CPUs, the hard disks, the network interfaces. Not to mention all the junk that the Microsofts, the Ciscos, the Intels and the rest of them want to put on your PC. If you ever looked at the services running you will notice that most of them are never used. Most of the computing power we purchase is never used.
Imagine if you only need to pay for what you use. Imagine a world where you could plug in a simple device and begin to use the IT service just as you would electricity or a telephone service. You only pay for the storage, processing and the network bandwidth usage. In addition, unlike electricity or cable, you have many competing companies to choose from. This service will be available where ever you are, not just at home.
As an extension, you only pay for software when you use it. ALL computing services will be metered on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than a license per copy with fat yearly support fees. If you are using open source products, there is no need to pay for them ever!
I know this will greatly upset the establishment, such as Microsoft and Oracle. So be it. For too long they have ruled the IT world with outsized profits. Monopolies rule the enterprise and desktop software. This can not go on forever. The open source community has matured sufficiently now that we can do a lot of computing without buying anything from Microsoft or Oracle.