September 16, 2011, 6:15 PM — An interesting thing has been happening on the way to the fully cloud-ified IT universe in which every company is able to call on as much computing power as it needs, of whatever kind, using whatever software, then return it to the vast, immutable ether, paying later only for what the used of this vast and magical power without being responsible for creating, training, feeding or protecting anything at all.
As more and more services, companies, computer functions and preventers-of-evil-computer-functions cram into the cloud-computing market, the market as a whole is starting to look a lot more like any single location connected to it.
There are some obvious examples; Amazon's EC2 Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) looks like a data-center-for-hire even from the outside because that's exactly what it is.
Customers can run what they want and tune it with bandwidth, storage, memory, additional servers, security and every other data-center tool they want because IAAS is designed to be the idealized version of the dusty, rural, physically uncomfortable satellite data centers IT staff run off to twice a year to do disaster-recovery training.
The difference is that, on Amazon's Cloud side of the rainbow, all the hardware is up to date, the software all works and no one has to worry about uptime, ever.
(EC2 still goes down, as do Microsoft's Azure, Google's Gmail and everything else anyone ever built to manage information, but customers don't have to worry about it. They just ignore the possibility until it happens and then get to yell a lot until it's fixed. IT staffers don't get enough chances to yell at people. They don't have time in between being yelled at by users.)
Despite all that glitters, there's layers of data-center services under them thar clouds
So, yes, there's a mysterious gloss on cloudish information technology structures, a little pixie dust (or that glitter that got jammed in every seam of your clothes and would never come out no matter how often you washed them since you went to that over-the-top vendor reception at a conference in Vegas).
If you shield your eyes a bit, though, you can see a dark pyramid shape hidden in the mists and shifting winds full of glitter.
Generally the fog of marketing-speak is so thick you can't see the real structure of what the infrastructure of what cloud computing is becoming as an industry without getting dangerously close, fighting your way through glitter haboobies and dodging rabid killer unicorns to do it.
When you see it, it's a real letdown – a little too familiar.