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The Cloud of 2002 and Earlier: More Than a History

I read the book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance by former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner several years ago. For people don’t know the author, Lou Gerstner became IBM CEO in 1993 when the company was on its way to losing $16 billion. The book is about his insider story of IBM’s historic turn around. Unlike other books by top executives, the book was really written by the author himself.

The book is just great with insightful observations and thoughts. So when I saw it in library weeks ago, I borrowed it back home again. This time I found something new or something that I didn’t pay enough attention the first time. Lou actually had the buzzword “cloud” in his book of 2002. Let’s see what he had to say about the cloud:

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It had to be in one of these early discussions with Dennie that I was introduced to “the cloud” – a graphic much loved and used on IBM charts showing how networks were going to change computing, communications, and all manner of business and human interaction. The cloud would be shown in the middle. To one side there would be little icons representing people using PCs, cell phones, and other kinds of network-connected devices. On the other side of the cloud were businesses, governments, universities, and institutions also connected to the network. The idea was that the cloud – the network – would enable and support incredible amounts of communications and transactions among people and businesses and institutions.

Comment: The meaning of the cloud seems limited to networking, and quite different from what’s known today. Networking is still important today in the new cloud because the connectivity is a must for accessing cloud services.

If the strategists were right, and the cloud really did become the locus of all this interaction, it would cause two revolutions – one in computing and one in business.

Comment: Typical Gerstner thinking – everything has to do with business just as the term he coined eBusiness for Internet.

It would be change computing because it would shift the work-loads from PCs and other so-called client devices to larger enterprise systems inside companies and to the cloud – the network – itself. This would reverse the trend that had made PC the center of innovation and investment – with all the obvious implications for IT companies that had made their fortunes on PC technologies.

Comment: Good prediction on the private cloud and public cloud even though he didn’t use the terms. But why public cloud took off first this time?

Far more important, the massive, global connectivity that the cloud depicted would create a revolution in the interactions among millions of businesses, schools, governments, and consumers. It would change commerce, education, health care, government services, and on and on. It would cause the biggest wave of business transformation since the introduction of digital data processing in the 1960s.

Comment: The predicted revolution hasn’t happened yet. I would prefer it to be an evolution rather than a revolution. The cloud, either old or new, has to be fueled by business demands. We must not overlook this by over focusing on technologies.

BTW, should we have a new term called cBusiness after eBusiness?

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  1. June 11th, 2010 at 07:41 | #1

    This is an interesting analogy of calling it “cBusiness” ….the growth in cloud computing will surely going to have an evolutionary impact on Businesses and it’s demands.

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