We all know that the technology world goes through repeating cycles, so why then do so many seem so in awe of the “cloud”? Have some forgotten “history tends to repeat itself”? Or is it just something the “marketing guys” hope they can slide by us with enough bells, whistles and buzzwords that our eyes will gloss over as we enter some trance state….”Must be in the cloud….yes…must get to cloud…yes…cloud, good….not in cloud, bad” ?
All you see and hear now (especially from the big players) is “We have a cloud platform!”….which is almost always followed by “…and ours is better than the theirs because ….”. It all reminds me of kids arguing on a playground….
kid 1 : My cloud is better than your cloud….”
kid 2 : uhnt-uh
kid 1 : uh-huh
kid 2 : is not!
kid 1 : is too!
kid 2 : Well, my dad can beat up your dad.
(*I can actually imagine a little Larry Ellison saying this. haha)
It really takes me back to not that long ago..the “client-server era” which of course upended the “mainframe” reign of power (side note…many claim the cloud is just an evolution of the mainframe model). Each player at the time would boast of their new “client server” based solutions….and stop me if you have heard this one before, theirs was first or at least better than any others. But let’s face it, without big advances in functionality or feature differentiators, all the companies could do to appear “new” and innovative and still in the lead in the “game” was to try to distance themselves based on their technology…their architecture. That usually gives them a few years to work out and through the actual differentiators that the end users really care about it. Soon the dust will settle out. Most all companies will have their “cloud” platform/solutions. Adding the term “cloud” into any product name or discussion will become as cringeworthy as prefixing the letter “e” to any and everything in the late 1990’s internet boom. In my opinion, we are close to that point now.
So then what? What’s the next buzz? Well, if history is any indication, the next big thing you will hear is “integration“. As I saw in a presentation slide this week….”integration leads to new and innovative business processes”…..sound familiar? I think I heard this a lot in the mid-1990’s from SAP when they had all but exhausted the usefulness of their “3 tiered client-server” architecture marketing spiel and started pushing on how much better their integration was…they upped the ante on this with the release of the “Business Suite” of products that each ran on their own “boxes” yet could all “talk” together (the “big split” of CRM, APO, etc). But I think we are already seeing this “integration” buzz now from the cloud players as they begin to move on from focusing just on architecture….especially as the whole “internet of things” (IoT) noise level is increasing.
And what follows “integration” in this cycle? In my opinion, it is actual innovation. This is where the “good stuff” happens!!! This is the exciting part. New things are created, and likewise new ways of doing old things are discovered. This is where some companies begin to pull away from the pack (some other companies might as well, but in wholly different directions than expected which can lead to more discoveries as well!). This period usually lasts the longest from what I have seen, as over time, others try to play catch up with the leaders, some fall by the wayside, new players emerge and overall, towards the end of this period, things begin to draw back…standardize…find their level. Everyone still in the game at this point pretty much offers close to the same thing with tiny exceptions here and there.
And then we are back to where we started….time to split up the architecture again!!! Let’ call it something new and exciting!!! What will it be this go around? Everything old is new again! haha