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Victor Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, WatersTechnology

July 2011: The Naming of Parts

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Eight years ago, while working on Hedge Fund and Investment Technology, one of Waters’ sibling publications, I wrote an editor’s letter, One day all technology will be delivered this way, in which I predicted that by 2015, all software consumed by buy-side firms would be provided on an application software provider (ASP) basis. Both Stewart Eisenhart, my deputy at the time, and I felt that, despite people’s insistence that taking the ASP route would expose their firms unnecessarily to data loss issues and reliability would wane, the ASP model would come to dominate software provision because the advantages were too compelling to ignore. I think it’s fair to say that, given the success of the ASP model over the years, people’s concerns have turned out to be more apocryphal than accurate.

And so, with all this hype around cloud, I feel somewhat vindicated, although certain cloud proponents would argue that cloud is not ASP and vice-versa, to which I would respond that cloud is simply the evolutionary offspring of the original ASP model.

In this month’s column, Max Bowie addresses this issue of semantics and interpretation head-on by asking the question: “When is a cloud not a cloud?” That’s a pertinent point to which you’re likely to hear a mosaic of answers depending on who you ask. And, given the fact that clouds now come in variety of shapes and sizes—private and virtual-private clouds, public clouds and any number of hybrid clouds—exactly what it is that qualifies a cloud to be a cloud is a bit, well, nebulous.

Max continues by explaining that some see cloud solutions simply as hosted services, while others contend that “it’s only truly cloud if it’s on-demand.” Again, that’s a fair point, but I can’t help but feel that we’re heading toward a scenario where consumers don’t care about the pigeon-hole in which their service provider has chosen to reside. That’s inconsequential to the quality of the service on offer, as are the nationality of the provider and the location of its datacenters. What’s far more important is quality, reliability, flexibility and responsiveness of the services on offer. After all, an ASP by any other name is still an ASP, right?

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