Hosting specialist Rackspace (RAX) made a move on the cloud space this week. And it wasn't a feint, it was a pretty substantial step. Rackspace bought two cloud-based companies, Slicehost and Jungle Disk, and established partnerships with Limelight and Sonian. There was quite a bit of talk on the subject in the blogosphere, but what does it really mean?
After all, what *is* the cloud space, really? Well, it really depends on who you ask. For Rackspace the answer to that question is apparently hosting, storage, and server capacity. Wait a second, isn't that what they already do? Ah yes, and that is the point. Rackspace isn't mounting a frontal assault on the cloud computing market, rather they are preparing to use cloud computing to power the next generation of their existing product lines.
For all the hype, the 'cloud' is primarily a new way to implement what we already do, sort of like VoIP was. Like they did with VoIP, cloud computing advocates promises a better cost structure, a better way to scale for the future, and most importantly that it will lead to new technologies so awesome that we cannot comprehend them let alone predict their cashflow. That last bit is the part I roll my eyes at.
That doesn't mean cloud computing isn't really cool, scaling data management is a major problem going forward. We *need* what cloud computing promises or else the internet will have scaling issues. It's just that we need to keep things in perspective and realize that this isn't a new sector, it's an old sector with a new approach. Or perhaps I am just very paranoid when it comes to buzzwords - from VoIP to Web2.0 to social networking to the cloud - it seems nirvana is just a hot air balloon ride away.
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