What is “Cloud Computing” and What is the Future Valuation?



How *do* you define “cloud computing? Interesting article that examines how different research organizations are defining the term.

Gartner says:

a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT capabilities are provided as a service to multiple customers using Internet technologies

While a UC Berkeley paper offers:

Cloud Computing refers to both the applications delivered as services over the Internet and the hardware and systems software in the data centers that provide those services. The services themselves have long been referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS), so we use that term. The data-center hardware and software is what we will call a Cloud. When a Cloud is made available in a pay-as-you-go manner to the public, we call it a Public Cloud; the service being sold is Utility Computing

People in the industry don’t necessarily agree with such a broad view of the cloud:

If I define the cloud the way Gartner does, I could conceivably consider any Internet-delivered service as a cloud service," Treadway said. "That's not a helpful definition from the standpoint of the massive shift that's going to happen over the next 10 years in computing architecture. Gartner is diluting the term and making its figures irrelevant. Other experts don't defend Gartner's definition. Gartner is at odds with the industry

Gartner forecasts the cloud computing valuation at:

  • $46b in 2008
  • $150b in 2013

While IDC says the cloud will be worth:

  • $42b in 2012

Merrill Lynch says it will be:

  • $160b by 2011

My take: really hard to say (how’s that for helpful?)

As an entrepreneur, “cloud computing” really equates to utility/on-demand computing. The ability to provision virtual instances on the fly and scale as demand/traffic requires. Throwing out the old physical data center model and all the fixed costs that go with it, including hardware depreciation.

As a user though, it is really about the applications I use on a regular basis that exist in “the cloud”. Things like gDocs, Mint, Twitter, Facebook (and of course, Backpack).

In the end I suspect that the larger view will be used, if only because it makes the overall (revenue) numbers so much larger. Like anything, the potential will be overvalued in the near-term and undervalued in the long-term. Kinda like the web was back in the Web 1.0 days.

Now, who is going to acquire Amazon (AMZN) for their AWS technology??