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Demystifying the cloud

Maybe google just knows me too well, but searching for “cloud” points me to answers about “cloud computing” before the fluffy stuff in the sky. Does this order apply to how our clients think as well?


I don’t expect so, though I’ll be glad enough to stand corrected. Some definitions of “Cloud” that may prevail for many include:

·       n. A visible body of very fine water droplets or ice particles suspended in the atmosphere at altitudes ranging up to several miles above sea level.

·       n. Something that darkens or fills with gloom

·       v.tr. To obscure: cloud the issues

·       idiom: in the clouds

o  Imaginary; unreal; fanciful.

o  Impractical.

As an aside, when I wrote “sky” above I thought of the TV channel. And as I reach for an apple (to eat) I start to wonder if words that describe nature won’t eventually all double up to stand for something in technology.


Thankfully I am not alone in asking how a technology concept (practical, clarifying, fills with hope) came to have such an esoteric name (“impractical, obscuring, fills with gloom”). “Why is it called ‘Cloud Computing’?” delivers on its title’s promise and tells the story. Apparently in “the early days of network design” engineers drew clouds to illustrate connections in their network that were not part of their remit to describe. These “unknown domains” were hooked to other networks, or the internet.


The Fantastic Tavern on Thursday succeeded in something that was previously difficult to fathom – demystifying the (technology concept) “cloud”. Amidst the familiar EMC Consulting personalities, clients, pizza, beer and proper evening summer sun peeking in through the windows, we took in five impressively accessible and intriguing business ideas that involved virtualised computing systems.


The five ideas were pitched in the BBC’s Dragon’s Den model, where“entrepreneurs pitch for investment from some of Britain’s top business brains”, to three make-believe investor “dragons” – in this case, EMC Consulting’s VP and UK & Ireland General Manager, Adrian McDonald; our client at Close Brothers Asset Management, Ralf Jeffery; and founding partner of Carter Wong Design, Phil Carter.


The impressive quality of the pitches, by Lee Provoost, Headshift; Simon Munroe, EMC Consulting; Jamie Thomson, Blink Tank Consulting; Matt Mould, EMC Consulting; and Simon Gallagher, ioko, was widely commended. What struck me most was the care taken to describe the benefit of each idea to people’s lives – positioning the Cloud as a powerful means to various valuable ends, the breadth and depth of which we will continue to discover. 


For excellent detailed views into the event, people involved and concepts pitched, Microsoft’s Ubelly and our host Matt Bagwell’s blog are the places to go.


Cloud Computing and virtualized information means that information, thanks to the internet, doesn’t just live and depend on one physical location. At EMC Consulting we talk about revolutionising the market place by enabling enterprise IT infrastructure to tap into “virtualized data centres” or “internal clouds” to efficiently pool resources (servers, network, storage), instead of relying on separate disconnected system streams (one application to one server).

To relate to big scale changes, I like to see how they scale down to my life. My contacts are on a cloud. If all my devices were to fail me tomorrow, I feel secure in that they live in the ethereal "cloud" on gmail, facebook and linkedin. My files could be virtualized too (lessening my mourning when my computer gives out its last blue screen and my external hard-drive makes good on those clinking noises it makes) through google docs, mobile me, flickr and many other options. I just took a look at our Microsoft Surface here at the office and found a folder called “Videos Cloud”. We don’t like to be tied to one location, and hedging our bets seems like the wise thing to do. The "cloud" is a short form for a lofty concept with very real applications. It may just stand up well to the fluffy stuff in the sky after all. 


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About Katerina Mavroidis

Senior Practice Consultant, Experience Planning
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