Dec 31, 2009

The Dawn of the Rent-It Culture

Not so new after all

Cloud (or application service) computing is a blast from the past; a true everything old is new again phenomenon.

I am what you would call an early adapter, having moved to a remotely-hosted model of application usage where I am basically renting software as opposed to buying it. My cloudy app’s include content management, email, e-mail marketing, accounting, CRM, backup & archiving, and more.

My chronologial age shows when I can harken back to the tipping point days of the microcomputer. Ah, distributed horsepower that knocked down the Berlin Wall of the evil Mainframe World and brought power to the people, right there on the desktop. Each of us was now empowered with our own CPU and hard drive as well as our own licensed copies of commercial software. There you go, Mr Gates, and thank you very much.

Now here we are entering 2010 and a new era of computing. We are now increasingly running software hosted on remote servers and not on our local PCs. Server farms have become so humongous that they’ve sometimes replaced office parks as a primary destroyer of corn pastures. Supposedly, Google’s servers draw more power than every television set in the country.

Wait a minute here: centralized servers owned by mega corporate behemoths acting as the new model of application deployment? Yes sir: it’s 1970 all over again! Crank up Grand Funk Railroad! Retro processing rules!

Rob Enderle shares these same quasi nostalgic sentiments – and goes on to give a good future-forward analysis here in his recent 2010: The Year and Decade of the Cloud.

While I’m the subject of digital megatrends and the new rent-it culture, another observation: the “streaming” model of digital music distribution seems to have pulled a tortoise vs hare comeback and now appears to be surpassing the “buy it and download it” option. This reminds me of a long-running debate on that very subject I had with some local folks that argued for the “people want to own the music” POV—and were banking their livelihoods on that being the case with a high profile local enterprise that played in that arena with that very business model as their basic assumption. I countered that they were wrong. I believe the stakes were something to the tune of a $100 wager.

Too bad they crashed and burned and are nowhere to be seen…

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