I am a big fan of social media, especially Twitter. I have used Twitter to engage in conversations with fellow enterprise architects, CTOs, CIOs, vendors, and industry analysts to name a few. Most of what I troll Twitter for are conversations about EA, SOA, and Cloud Computing. Lately, the Twitter stream has been adding little to no value on these topics. Most of the chatter that comes across my Twitter client is a rehashing of what is being said at conferences. It seems that there are at least one, if not more, cloud computing conferences each week. Even the conferences that are not about cloud computing still manage to talk about the cloud. After all, if you are a vendor and you are not talking cloud, you are outdated (or so it seems).
So my Twitter stream is full of “new” information about the cloud. Vendors sponsor conferences, supply most of the keynotes and other sessions, and all of the attendees blog and/or tweet about it. Many of the people up on the grand stage can’t even define the terms correctly yet all of the trade magazines reiterate what they say to all of us who are not there. This leads to mass confusion because unqualified speakers are talking in riddles and peddling their snake oil to the hungry masses looking for information.
If you have been following the chatter the last few weeks, you might think that the top cloud computing vendors are HP, IBM, and Oracle. The reality is that these mega vendors have been on a huge PR mission and have dominated the conferences, thus dominating the conversation on Twitter and on blogs. For those of us who are actually working hands-on with cloud computing each day and solving real business problems, we know that these three vendors are not even close to the top of the cloud computing list in the areas of innovation, real customer installations, and maturity. Companies like Amazon, 3Tera, Google, Salesforce, GoGrid, and many others are light years ahead. Companies like iBM, Oracle, EMC, HP are retrofitting existing products and selling them as cloud solutions.
But try to have a real conversation on Twitter about cloud computing and you will be sorely disappointed. There are some great folks out there in the area of security and compliance. I actually see some value in those conversations once you sift through the hype and myths. But when it comes to architecture and deployments in the cloud, there is complete silence out there. I feel like I am stranded on an island looking for the ship to arrive. Where are the practitioners? Are there any? The cloud conversation is just pure conference regurgitation. There seems to be more cloud computing conferences then there are cloud computing case studies. When I do see an EA type talking about the cloud the message is usually, “Cloud computing has been around for years. This is nothing new”. When I hear that I respond with, “Phones have been around for years, but you can’t tell me that the iPhone and the Blackberry have not radically changed the way we do business”. This is true for the cloud. Yes, we have been outsourcing data centers for years, but the technological advancements over the years have driven costs way down and has made managing and deploying cloud resources much simpler than in the past. Today’s cloud is as much as a game changer as the Internet was when it bursted onto the scene in corporate offices in the early 90’s.
So as a CTO/architect who still rolls up his sleeves and designs things, I am seeing a huge void in finding valuable information about cloud computing. I don’t see any enterprise level case studies. I hear vendors talking the talk, but they have no real results to support all of their hot air. I see the analysts and bloggers repeating what vendors say which is mostly product specific. There is a lot of talk about what to do, but very few are talking about how to do it and sharing the hard fought lessons learned along the way. Maybe I am expecting too much from Twitter. Maybe the people with all the answers I seek are too busy building things to be tweeting all day. Maybe Twitter and Blogs are the wrong place to look for answers. Maybe I just need to figure everything out myself (which has been the case so far). Maybe Twitter is just the perfect PR machine for vendors and a bad place for practitioners to collaborate.
Maybe I just need a vacation!