From Bartering to Paper Money – An Allegory for Cloud Computing

The principle impediment to the widespread adoption of Cloud Computing is the fear over security – and rightfully so. 

To entrust an outsourced service or system with customer and employee data, inventory and supply chain intel, and executive communications would give virtually anyone pause, despite the cost savings and efficiency so inherent in the cloud approach.

And while technological solutions will present themselves to assuage the trepidations of chief information officers, the only true fix is time.  Companies need to get used to the concept of having data and applications hosted outside of their own server closet. 

The Economist grabbed an interesting allegory from an executive at EMC ($EMC) which gives us some perspective:

Take the monetary system. In his address to the annual RSA Conference on computer security held in San Francisco on March 2nd, Art Coviello, president of EMC’s security division, noted how civilisation started with barter, then invented coins to make money more portable—even though people still had to carry their wealth around with them physically. The first step in the virtualisation of wealth came with the introduction of paper money. These promissory notes, with no intrinsic value, forced people to deal with the concept of attestation—certifying that something is genuine. And with that, the advent of financial instruments such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds created ways of sharing wealth—so that when one person wasn’t using it, another could.

What’s interesting is that there is not much difference in adoption rates between small/midsize business and major corporations – the cloud is compelling all comers, regardless of size.  As time goes by, people will become accustomed to accessing tools and information held on virtual private networks, just as they have with using paper (and now digital) money.


Cloudy With a Chance of Rain (The Economist)

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