Cloud Computing == Bubble 2.0?

So Microsoft has jumped on the Cloud bandwagon. I doubt there was a single person in the room who was surprised when Ray Ozzie got up on stage and announced their new Cloud OS, Windows Azure; but I’m sure many of us were interested to see Microsoft’s take on cloud computing.

Personally I’m not convinced that The Cloud is the future. The technology might be coming together, but there are still way too many unanswered questions. For many companies, their data is one of their most important assets; so it’s surprising that the Cloud providers have yet to answer how their offering fits into the regulatory framework, and if the data is really secure. I’m sure this won’t stop some early adopters, but I certainly wouldn’t want any business critical data sat on someone else’s server. At least, not without a very clear understanding from the provider about how that data will be protected.

Another issue with Cloud computing is that it leads to the ultimate vendor lock-in. Unless you are one of the provider’s two or three biggest customers, you’re going to have no say in the features which get dropped or deprecated from each release. The potential cost of rewriting parts of your codebase to comply is mind-bending. Vendor lock-in also brings huge risks to business continuity; what happens if your Cloud provider goes bust, decides they don’t like your application any more, or that you have breached their ToS and they suspend your account? Overnight your profitable, cash flow positive business is worth nothing. Is this really something you want to leave in the hands of another company who don’t really care, on an individual basis, if they have your business or not?

The last potentially worrying question I’ll ask today is this: What sort of app works well on the Cloud? AWS seems to have attracted a few applications but most of these are just using it as an alternative to a hosting company. Are there any parts of the application you are currently working on which could be moved to the cloud successfully, and would it benefit the end user if you were to do so?

Until these questions can be answered with something more than marketing hype I sure as hell won’t be going anywhere near a Cloud.