Cloud is More a Verb than a Noun

Bob Deutsche from Intel says that moving to the cloud is a complex process that takes the alignment of many moving parts. In other words, the cloud is more of a verb than a noun.

Bob Deutsche joined Intel in 2004 and has more than 25 years of business and IT experience in positions that ranged from data center operations to software development to CIO. He can be found online at Bob Deutsche on the Intel Server Room.


Let me begin with an admission. Ever since Miss Jacobson’s seventh-grade English class at Lincoln Junior High School, I’ve recognized myself as somewhat challenged in the proper use of commas, adjectives, pronouns, and the general mechanics of the English written word. In fact, my constant companion is the 1971 edition of Practical English Handbook. You’d think that after all this time my command of the mechanics of the English language might have improved—and it has, a little. But I remain thankful for my reviewers (Sally and Cory) who are experts in the mechanics of the written word and often keep me from stumbling.

So having admitted one of my darkest secrets, it’s with some irony that I discuss my fifth truth of corporate cloud strategy: Cloud is a verb, not a noun.

Deeper Meanings to Our Terminology

First, let’s look at the meanings of “noun” and “verb.” According to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, a noun is any of a class of words naming or denoting a person, place, thing, event, substance, quality, quantity, or idea (e.g., boy, water, truth). Conversely, a verb is any of a class of words expressing action, existence, or occurrence (e.g., bring, read, walk, run, learn), or a state of being (e.g., be, exist, stand). While you may find these definitions mildly informative, why should you care?

If you’ve been following my Industry Perspectives (and thanks if you have), you’ve probably noticed a theme. I tend to believe in common sense over spectacle—and to assert that moving to the cloud is a complex process that takes the alignment of many moving parts. In other words, the cloud is more of a verb than a noun.

Unfortunately, the industry seems intent on marketing “the cloud” as more of an object (noun) than it really is. (Maybe I should make that “cloud,” since a recent Wall Street Journal article concludes that branding gurus, particularly in Silicon Valley, tend to favor dropping articles such as “the,” “an,” or “a” before a noun because they believe that without it, the word assumes an almost an icon-like aura. )

What CIOs Are Saying

To see my point, look at Figure 1. Intel often sends me to events where a broad range of industry CIOs discuss their perspectives on and strategies for the cloud. From these discussions, I’ve constructed a graphic that identifies recurring themes and shows some of the profound differences in how the industry views the cloud as a noun versus a verb.

Figure 1. Cloud as a noun versus a verb

Cloud Necessitates That You Think Big

What should capture your immediate attention is the imbalance in the column where cloud is viewed as a noun. Obviously, the cloud encompasses much more than the data center and a thin client. If what I’m seeing is accurate, it is not clear as to why this is happening. Perhaps it indicates factors the CIO can control. Perhaps it’s a response to the way the cloud seems to be finding its way into the enterprise (see my post Let’s Get Real about the Cloud). Regardless, I seem to spend a significant amount of time promoting these two ideas:

  • The cloud is much bigger than the data center.
  • You must develop an end-to-end strategy if you hope to be successful.

Regarding the belief that the cloud somehow always leads to a thin client, it’s always interesting when I ask an enterprise how they used considerations like application architecture (driven by usage models), data architecture (network packet sizing), and associated bandwidth considerations (wired and wireless) in reaching that conclusion. More often than not I either get no answer to my questions or the subject is changed.

To sum up, it’s entirely possible that my views on whether the cloud is more often thought of as a noun versus a verb are wrong. As I’ve said, I based them on discussions with Intel customers and other CIOs at industry events. If you see things differently based on your own experience, let me know by posting a comment or contact me via LinkedIn.

Finally, here’s our complete list of the inviolable, fundamental truths of corporate cloud strategy:

  • Large-scale transformation to cloud computing, including your critical business systems, is a journey that will take you from 8 to 10 years.
  • Cloud is a top-down architectural framework that binds strategy with solutions development.
  • Your cloud ecosystem is only as robust and adaptable as the sum of its parts.
  • Services-oriented enterprise taxonomy is not optional.
  • Cloud is a verb, not a noun.
  • Technology-driven business practices often circumvent government regulations, but legal/government policy standards will dictate the cloud’s success.
  • Bandwidth and data transmission may not always be as inexpensive and unencumbered as they are today (geo-sensitive considerations).
  • Altruistic motives do not generally keep the lights on.

In future Industry Perspectives, I’ll continue to detail these fundamental truths. As always, please join in the discussion on today’s topic or anything I’ve said in my previous posts.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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