A Walk in the Cloud

We swim in jargon in our professional lives, and in no industry is jargon more tragically opaque than technology, where the Cloud With A Capital C looms large over all inane conversation.

Is there a cloud-based application that will erase this tank-top from my memory?

The Cloud is everywhere these days, and I’m as guilty as anyone in associating myself with this high-multiple, sleeveless concept. However, we’ve jumped the shark when incompetent and unsophisticated companies like Comcast are investing monopoly-enabled advertising dollars to claim leadership in the Cloud simply because their intensely dissatisfied customers are able to stream selected low-quality content from some ancient servers tucked away in a dirty warehouse near Modesto. (Full disclosure: I detest Comcast, like every other American.)

On any given day on the job, I’ll get into a long discussion about harmonization of enterprise virtualization and get frank about how multitenant architecture isn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all. Sometimes I vigorously debate the most efficient allocation of elastic compute capacity to optimize for latency and redundancy. Everything I know about this crap comes from Wikipedia, so it’s incredibly important that I constantly reassuringly gesticulate and deliver confident, knowing glances so I appear to know exactly what I’m talking about. This is the secret to life, actually. Run with it.

We wanna-be tech wonks need to understand the difference between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. I initially thought the middle one was a very vinegar-y system for coloring Easter eggs and poisoning young children in springtime. However, it’s critical to know if the company you’re investing in or babbling about at a cocktail party is selling as-a-Service a bunch of server, network, and/or compute capacity (I = Infrastructure), a development environment (hopefully) with an existing, targeted customer base (P = Platform), or just some application (S = Software) available anytime, anywhere via the Web.

But the average Josie Sixpack can’t comprehend all this multisyllabic mumbo jumbo; she just can’t handle the Cloud. Inevitably, after I talk about the Cloud for 30 minutes at a social gathering, some brave yet timid soul will approach me and rightfully ask: “So, um, what the hell is the Cloud exactly anyway?”

The answer: A bunch of computers hooked together.

We regular folk have been living in the Cloud for years. Yahoo! Mail is a cloud application. Your stuff lives on Yahoo!’s servers. Facebook is a cloud application. Those pictures of you beer-bonging between two female “professionals” at your father-in-law’s bachelor party (yep) live on Facebook’s servers, which should actually be less terrifying than them living physically and unencrypted in a shoebox under a bed that your inevitably angry wife can easily access. When you stream some vile reality show via Comcast’s Xfinity service, you are technically leveraging the vast omniscience of the Cloud, but it doesn’t mean Comcast is anything but the least savvy customer-facing organization on our great green Earth.

I actually understand the Cloud much better than I understood Charlie St. Cloud, which I will never admit to watching recently on a plane.

Is that guy dead or alive or what? Who cares, it was Zac Efron, and girls really like Zac Efron. I will now access undoubtedly high-caliber information stored on Wikipedia’s creaking servers to better understand how I can be more like Zac Efron.

Those eyes. That hair. Just not fair.

Long live the Cloud, and send Wikipedia some money lest we become less-distracted, better-informed contributors to our endangered society!

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