Douglas Adams once stated that all major civilizations go through three distinct phases of development, characterized by the questions: “How can we eat?”, “Why do we eat?” and “Where shall we have lunch?”.

Each question represents an increasing level of maturity in the civilization’s development. Previously in Part 1, we covered the “How” question for the cloud. Now it’s time to raise the bar of sophistication and answer the question burning in everyone’s mind: “Why do we ‘Cloud’?”

We “Cloud” because the Cloud solves problems whose solutions were traditionally tricky, expensive or both. Typically, the problems solved by the Cloud tend to have one thread in common: they are all, in one way or another, problems of scale. For a recent example, consider Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader service, serving potentially millions of customers with a huge database of different books and articles that can be accessed – a problem they have solved using a Cloud-based approach. So, why is scale a problem? After all, it’s just a computer; when things get tough, can’t we just toss more “computer” at it and call it day?

In an ideal world yes, but in the real world, not so much.

Let’s play devil’s advocate. Let’s pretend this whole scale problem is a clever ruse invented by cloud providers to get you to hand over your hard-earned cash. Being clever ourselves, we put together a crack team of IT consultants who happily put together a well-oiled IT machine. It’s all straight and orderly, much like this line here:

But we aren’t the type of company that stands still for very long – we need to innovate! grow! expand! Our IT has come with it, so we throw a few more widgets into the fray, increasing the complexity:

OK, now our system has a bit of curve ball in it, but nothing our steadfast IT crew can’t manage – right? They did such a great job increasing our efficiency, that now it’s time to expand again:

Now things are starting to get messy! If we’re going to keep our system from degrading into some kind of deranged snowflake we need to get a handle on things fast. Traditionally, keeping your IT straight would fall completely in the hands of your company’s IT professionals, but the thing is, unless your main business is IT, you’re going to have to pay out some serious money to get the staff needed to handle the ever increasing complexity in a dignified way. If only there were someplace you could put all these new storage devices, websites, and assorted gizmo’s where you didn’t have to keep those IT guys around to look after it.

Say hello to the Cloud.

If utilized correctly, the Cloud allows us to get control of that complexity and essentially turn it into somebodyelsesproblem (SEP). That, in a nutshell, is why we “Cloud”. With the Cloud, when we need more power, we simply ask for it – no need to worry about pathological monsters waiting for us in the shadows.

With the why of the Cloud firmly investigated, or at least on some solidly stable footing, it’s time to consider the “Where shall we have lunch?” question. We’ll be looking at it in the third and final installment of this series, coming out right after I’ve finished this sandwich.

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