The cloud.

Love it or hate it, everyone is talking about it here in Atlanta at TechEd 2011.

I've attended several birds-of-a-feather, breakout, and training sessions over the last two days and I've talked with many customers regarding the cloud, the Microsoft Cloud, cloud computing in general, and other cloud computing offerings from competing companies. In the course of these discussions several customer comments have stood out:

  1. The cloud has amazing potential.
  2. The cloud is nothing more than a glorified terminal server implementation.
  3. The cloud is a way for Microsoft and other cloud providers to subsume and own customer data without their consent.
  4. The cloud is not to be trusted.

Just at breakfast this morning I overheard several customers discussing the cloud. They went back and forth about the pros and cons, discussed how they could use it, and then after about 15 minutes of heated discussion, one of them said: "Yeah, but you can't trust it." The whole table nodded silently at this.

Trust.

I've heard this over and over, either spoken outright or inferred. It seems to be the primary concern when it comes to the cloud. Not, "Will it work?" Not, "Can I afford it?" Not, "What will it take to implement?" The primary question on everyone's mind regarding the cloud is "Can I trust it?"

This question of trust does not only apply to the Microsoft cloud, but all other cloud providers, such as Amazon and Oracle. News stories like this one -- http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-15/sony-attack-shows-amazon-s-cloud-service-lures-hackers-at-pennies-an-hour.html, about Sony's hacked PSN network -- are top of mind for many customers. They're thinking -- this could me me and my data.

An introduction to the Microsoft cloud can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud/default.aspx?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=5F0B32B8-29F9-42E4-A7F8-B1E464F82A01&CR_SCC=200010705&fbid=acmj13VguHz. Follow this link and you'll be introduced to the Microsoft cloud, the ways it can help your business and the features it offers. What you won't find is a discussion about trust. There's lots of information that talks about performance, security, reliability, and guarantees around satisfaction, up-time, and productivity. Trust is assumed.

So what does this mean for customers looking to enter the world of the cloud? The same thing that it means for customers looking to buy a new car, make a deposit at a bank, or even purchase an evening meal. Every single decision made requires a measure of trust. Trust that the car will drive smoothly and safely down the road, that the bank will safely keep your money and always have it when you need it, and that the restaurant will serve well-prepared and safe-to-eat food. Trust is expected, given, and recieved daily.

The cloud is no different.

Tell me what YOU think, and your experience with the cloud, whether the provider is Microsoft or someone else.

Thanks to everyone I talked to on Tuesday, and to everyone reading this.

-- Hal Zucati