Cost-Benefit Analysis in the Land of Buzz

For the past couple of years, I’ve been following the advance of cloud computing into the marketplace.  Recently, as the Cloud has begun to–I can’t say materialize as that might confer some notion of definable substance, which in this line of business is to be avoided at all costs–become a presence, information officers have been increasingly interested in matters of costs and benefits. Those who are considering migrating their current computing operations to the Cloud would like to make risk assessments that weigh CAPEX–capital expense–against OPEX–operating expense–and for that they will need help calculating the TCO–the Total Cost of Ownership. To forecast the TCO, they will need to get out the Monte Carlo software to predict their potential flow of data out through the Cloud, and depending on a company’s familiarity with risk analysis, this "could = hire a consultant who understands the meaning of all this."
Recently, to help clarify matters, a Computerworld blogger declared, "The fact that people are so interested in cloud TCO indicates that the general value proposition of cloud computing has been accepted and absorbed."  The need for this incisive commentary he blames on the fact that "there’s been an amazing amount of FUD"–Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt–"strewn about on the topic of cloud TCO." 

My problem with this discussion, as you’ve probably gathered, is not the efforts of smart people to grapple with the opportunities and operations management issues raised by Internet-based computing.  It’s the FUD that folks in computing seem to experience when it comes to clear, plain labels.  They flee into the land of buzz in order to assure TO–Total Ownership–of the terms.  


For starters, take the term Cloud for Internet.  It all gets just a little too. . . .well, vaporous.  It makes me feel like the grandmother of a man being ceremoniously installed as a dean at Cornell University a while back.  Having survived into her nineties and through the morning’s pomp and circumstance, she asked her grandson what exactly he would be doing in this new job, and as he started to explain, she looked as if something tasted bad.  Finally she broke in.  "Honey," she said, "if you can’t say it in one sentence, it has got to be illegal." 

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