MS and Google Moves Show How Cloud is Transforming IT

Every disruption also contains the seed of new products and services, which companies leverage for success. Last week, Microsoft and Google showed two new ways they're cashing in on the cloud. CIO.com's Bernard Golden explains what it means to you.

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What does Google Voice mean to users? I continue to discuss with people I meet that cloud computing is a new platform, not just a different hosting arrangement. The rise of the automobile didn't mean that people could get to the same places they used to go by horse, only faster. It meant they could go to new places that they never could have gone to by horse. And the automobile didn't just move people from one place to another. It transformed (there's that word again—and remember, transformation isn't gentle, it's heady, attractive, and menacing, all at once) the way we live and work. To offer just one small example, fast food wasn't really important in the geographically constricted circumstances of a horse-oriented economy. Nobody really traveled so much that they didn't know local restaurants (and please, don't bring up the Fred Harvey Company; it's the exception that proves the rule). With cars, suddenly everyone was going everywhere, and a standardized, branded food offering made sense—much to Ray Kroc and Carl Karcher's delight. And that's just one tiny example out of a multitude.

Cloud computing isn't just more of today's computing done a little bit better, faster, and cheaper. It's a different computing altogether. Keep that in mind the next time someone tells you that cloud computing will never displace the local data center because of X, or Y, or Z.

Bernard Golden is CEO of consulting firm HyperStratus, which specializes in virtualization, cloud computing and related issues. He is also the author of "Virtualization for Dummies," the best-selling book on virtualization to date.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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