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Paul Miller's Blog

For too long, the emphasis in Cloud Computing circles has been almost exclusively upon provision of rapidly scalable and ad hoc remote computing on top of cost-effective commodity hardware. The Cloud play from Salesforce, Amazon’s EC2 and the rest has been dominated by the implicit assumption that these Cloud-based resources are an extension of the corporate data center; a way to simply reduce the costs of enterprise computing. There is value in this business, but there are bigger opportunities. Cloud Computing, and the various *aaS movements, have finally brought us to a place where the fiercely guarded and tightly delineated boundaries between the organisation and those outside it may become permeable in ways that should benefit the organisation rather than threaten it.

It is a quite remarkable feeling to watch as the pieces fall into place and the picture, anticipated for so long, is finally revealed in all its splendor. As with any jigsaw that lacked a guiding picture on the box, the final result is that inevitable mix of vindication and surprise. Some areas of the picture are wholly unexpected, some look as one predicted, whilst across most of the image there are new facets to explore in familiar faces, anticipated dioramas to compare with long-held expectation, and presumptions to challenge or validate.

Recent advances in the business of Cloud Computing form just such a picture, and reach out to encompass previously unrelated aspects of Web 2.0, the Semantic Web, Platform Computing, Software as a Service (SaaS) and the economics of Disruption. Not merely some game of buzzword bingo on an unprecedented scale, it is becoming increasingly easy to see the opportunities for a significant shift in the way that we access computational resources; and to recognize that the walls separating organizations from their peers, their partners, their competitors and their customers will become ever-more permeable to the flow of data upon which those distant machines will compute.

There is much to understand that is already known in related fields, and much to discover that only becomes possible in this space. One early challenge is in carving a discrete niche for the place toward which we are moving with such rapidity. Far more than ‘just’ the Cloud; an evolution on from the playful flippancy that diminishes so many of Web 2.0’s poster children; and difficult to relate to the mainstream misconceptions of the Semantic Web’s complexity. Yet this new place is the sum of these parts, and far greater than they can ever be alone. So do we extend the already ephemeral notion of Cloud Computing? Do we appropriate the ‘next big thing’ label of Web 3.0? Or do we need a healthily fresh attitude to business computing’s apparently insatiable desire to apply labels?

First, though, let us consider the shape of this thing that is taking on more substance with each passing day.

About Paul Miller
Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

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