I spent last week out in New Mexico, hanging out at a friend's ranch and watching elk and antelope and looking up at those beautiful blue skies. If you've never spent any time in the high country, the sky and the clouds look quite a bit different from that elevation. I don't know if it's because the air is thinner or if it's just that you're 10,000 feet higher but it's breathtaking.

Getting to and from there, I spent about 26 hours in my truck and my thoughts turned to the clouds. No, not the same clouds I was looking at out in New Mexico but the clouds that we deal with as IT professionals. I've spent a lot of time talking and writing about clouds lately including a blog post over at LoveMyTool.com but it was nice to just stop and think about them for several hours.

When you think about it, we've all been using "clouds" for years. If you define cloud as an environment where shared computing resources are made available to consumers through a self provisioning process, then there are loads of examples at home and at work. Let's take renting movies for instance. Years ago, we all bought our own VCR/DVD/Blue Ray players, drove to Blockbuster to rent movies, watched them at home and then drove them back. Nowadays, we just hit a button on our TV remote and the movie we want to watch is streamed into our home via broadband in real-time. The storage and computing systems are located in the "clouds" provided by NetFlix, Apple, Amazon or whomever you like to use for these services and we're simply consuming the resources on-demand.

There are several advances in technology that have helped enable these changes. Most people consider the catalyst behind cloud computing to be the abudance of available computing capacity, but for me it's really about the availability of inexpensive, high-speed, reliable bandwidth. When I started working at SolarWinds we had a single T-1 connecting the company and all of our systems to the internet - now I have almost 30 times that much bandwidth from my house...

As we begin thinking about how to leverage clould computing as a part of our IT strategies it's easy to get a little intimidated by all the talk. Is cloud the new "big thing"? Will it make my job in IT obsolete? Will IT departments cease to exist in organizations that rely heavily on cloud resources? Ease up a little bit there pardner, take a breath, and slow down. Yes, there are some great areas where we can begin leveraging cloud but there are also new technologies being developed that require localized resources and skills. My best advice - just like with any new technology - get some first hand experience and never, ever let it intimidate you...


Flame on...
Josh
Follow me on Twitter