An article in Sunday’s New York Times, “Supercomputing for the Masses”, makes many of the familiar points about cloud computing economics. Linking up resources in the cloud -- both for raw computing power and information sharing -- gives “ordinary people with a novel idea a chance to explore their curiosity … and perhaps find something new.” Dramatic discoveries happen faster when “ordinary people” have access to the resources previously available only to specialists inside their respective institutional and disciplinary silos. Of course, the specialists can also reap bigger discoveries faster when they’re able to reach across institutional and disciplinary boundaries.
And that’s the problem.
Organizations don’t like sharing information with the cloud -- and their competitors. As one scientist in the article says, “All the data that we collect in science should be accessible, and that’s just not the way it works today.”
That’s like the ERP market. Don’t expect the ones with the most knowledge -- large software vendors, software integrators and consulting firms -- to contribute any time soon to a cloud-based initiative designed to speed innovation, lower risk, and help ordinary users become much more productive. Cloud computing isn’t just about achieving technology milestones. It’s about helping smart people contribute anonymously so that their bosses won’t fire them.