You Are Not Even Wrong About the Cloud - Part 1

Many years ago, I read an article in The New Yorker about a math expert who was working as one of the early quants on Wall Street. One phrase from that article has become a part of my vocabulary – “You are not even wrong”. By this, the mathematician meant that the person was so far off base on a topic as to not even qualify as being wrong – it’s like they had left the universe of correct and incorrect on a certain topic.

I have used it over the years as a sarcastic description of some opinion I felt was on the far side of clueless. But, in reality, the description is not just an ultimate putdown of sorts. This phrase can apply to any ideas which don’t really apply to a particular scenario. The person expressing the opinion is not necessarily unintelligent, or even uninformed. They are just playing on the wrong field.

I’ve been product manager for the Oracle Database Cloud for the past 3 years, and I find that this situation is wildly common when people talk about Cloud computing. Seemingly everyone is excited about the possibilities of the Cloud, but the overwhelming majority of people are looking at this technology area from an inappropriate viewpoint.

Put simply, most believe the Cloud is magic. And we all know there is no magic technology – even a great advance like Exadata is a result of a bunch of good decisions implemented well.

The problem lies in something I refer to as the orthogonal nature of costs and benefits. When two terms are orthogonal, there is no statistical relationship between them. In the same way, there are important facets of Cloud computing where the costs and benefits stem from different places – places which are rarely united in a single world view.

This blog is the first of five parts. In the next three parts (with the first of these three parts here), I will discuss three prominent areas of orthogonal costs and benefits, which will help you to understand how to properly evaluate the what, when and hows of Cloud computing for your particular organization. The final part will be a general prescription on how to move to the Cloud to maximize benefits and minimize both problems and disappointments.

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