Unreliable narrators

Cloudsplitting: Recognizing the Tech and Business Cloud Narratives

Cloud Computing can be an intimidating subject area simply due to the sheer number of articles, blogs, conferences, and information on the matter. My goal in this post is to split the discussion based on the perspective of the writer.

While researching this post on “Cloudsplitting”, I became formally acquainted to the concept of an unreliable narrator:

“a narrator, whether in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised.”

The nature of the narrator may be immediately clear or it may be revealed later in the story. Sometimes it is revealed at the very end, at which point you find out your narrator has been totally unreliable! This makes yo story… which you should…. the guy was unreliable.

I think it’s a great concept! The first example that jumps to mind would be Kevin Spacey’s character in The Usual Suspects (Warning: Swears… Gonzalez sized swears).

I stumbled on the concept, the actual term, thanks to Cloudsplitter, the book. It’s a fictional retelling of Harper’s Ferry from the FICTIONALIZED point of view of John Brown’s son.

The author, Russell Banks, creates new context around the real events through his imagining of what Owen Brown’s views might have been. In this case, John Brown comes off as a lot less crazy than he may have come off otherwise.

(It’s also a hill in upstate NY near Bank’s home – ‘Tahawus‘ is the native Algonquin name for Mt. Marcy – the highest peak in the Adirondacks. It translates to ‘Cloudsplitter.’)

Emotional attachment and years of hermit-like isolation warp the perspective of our fictional version of Owen Brown. Unreliable. Quite frankly, I’ve seen the same in business.

I don’t want to fall for the same mistake.

We’re not hermits holed up in a cabin somewhere living on bottled water and beef jerky.

That’s one of the biggest differences between the introduction of Cloud technology and the introduction of previous computing technology. This time around information abounds. Whereas in the past, information about new technology was carried through very limited channels. And even then, it may have traveled indirect routes.

With our proliferation of information, it’s more important than ever to consider the source of the information. After all, the greatest trick the narrator ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist…. or something.

Be it me and my Cloud Computing story or the guy at your office who waves his arms and decries this “parlour trick” technology.

Where is your information coming from?

I’ll point you to a few resources in a minute that, hopefully, will pass the narrator reliability test. First, if I may, I want to take the opportunity to split Cloud Computing into two separate camps.

In one camp, we’ll have Techie Cloud. In the other, we’ll have Business Cloud.

Techie Cloud:
This is the stuff relating to the functioning of a cloud environment. What’s the architecture? Where’s the data? How do I manage it?

It’s the kind of stuff your Systems Administrators and DBAs and IT Managers would want to know. For instance, I want to play around with Amazon Web Services to create a new computing environment. Do I need any special tools to work there?

Yes, there’s a front-end tool called Rightscale that makes creating a computing environment easy.

While interesting from an academic perspective, your average business user will probably get limited value from seeking out tonnes of information about Techie Cloud. Recognize it when you see it.

Business Cloud:
This is the stuff relating to using cloud-based software. The business user who is looking for a “consumerized” web experience. What does it do? Is it easy to learn? What’s the cost? How do I sign up?

It’s the kind of stuff the accountants, marketers, and salespeople would want to know. For instance, I want to find a way to manage my team’s projects. Can I get going with something quickly?

Yes, try Basecamp.

And Business Cloud is separate from the business of cloud which we’ll get into later.

The reason I am going around Cloudsplitting is because the content I’ve been finding lately doesn’t discriminate with respect to audience. You are as likely to jump into an article that’s geared toward IT as you are to find an article for a Business User’s perspective.

Forward the Techie Cloud articles on to your IT departments. There’s a view out there that Cloud is going to make IT deparments obsolete. I disagree. I think Cloud will free up IT from the mundane custodial services of server maintenance becoming a more strategic partner with management. I’ve written before about accountants being the dishwashers of business. We’re the dishwashers and IT are the custodians (or janitors if you want to be unkind about it).

And remember:

Evaluate the reliability of the source. Evaluate for audience.

Techie Cloud

8 Tips for Getting Started in Cloud Computing (by Rackspace)

What Does the Future Hold for IT? (Bloomberg)

Cloudcamp – formed to provide a common ground for the introduction and advancement of cloud computing

Business Cloud

ICPA Trusted Business Solutions (CPA2Biz) – all of these are Saas offerings

Tourist in Techie Land: Reporting from Cloudcamp Vancouver (me)

IBM CTO at Interop: Consumerization of IT is a Driving Force (ZDNet)

Geoff Devereux works in a marketing/social media role with Indicee, a Saas Business Intelligence company, bringing B.I. to mere mortals. You can see more of his posts for GC here. H/t to Jesse from Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides for the translation and Greg_Smith for the pic.