Cloud Computing: The Medium is NOT the Message

This article was originally posted on August 02, 2010.

After my recent trip to Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference , I have given more thought to “ the cloud ,” the star of the show at WPC. Since our return from WPC, I have been quizzed by colleagues, clients, and partners abou t KMA’s strategy for the cloud and our intentions toward Microsoft’s cloud solutions.

Let me be VERY clear on this: I think cloud computing is critically important, and has the ability to fundamentally change with way organizations execute information technology. That being said, my point of view is that cloud computing has a role in enabling solutions in new and interesting ways, but the cloud is not the solution. I will say it again: the cloud enables solutions, but it is not the solution.

Business users just want a solution that works on their PC, their mobile device, or their browser. They generally don’t care much whether the application behind it is housed in their data center, Microsoft’s data center, or elsewhere — they just need for it to help them solve their problem.

Some of what I’m hearing now about the cloud reminds of conversations had 2–3 years ago about SharePoint: people emphatically want it, but are not sure precisely why.

I want my conversation with a client or prospective client to be focused on how they can make their information workers more insightful, more productive, and more collaborative in a way that provides them with competitive advantage. Because of my firm’s focus, this conversation typically revolves around how they can do so with Microsoft technologies (like Office, SharePoint, SQL Server, and Visual Studio.NET).

In my perfect world, the THIRD question, after (1) the business problem and (2) the choice of enabling technology is “How would you like to deploy that solution?” (on-premises, in Microsoft’s data center, in a third-party data center, etc.).

At WPC, Microsoft showed us a promising vision of how their cloud solutions are:

  1. being effectively used to solve business problems today, and
  2. getting closer to the functional parity our firm needs to be successful in delivering tailored, differentiated solutions.

This vision is worthy of my firm’s attention to and investment in tools like Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Projects “ Dallas” and “ Houston,” Silverlight, etc., which are ongoing and significant.

Meanwhile, we’re working equally hard to stay focused questions #1 and #2.

Originally published at

Project management, financial management, and knowledge management. Microsoft 365 aficionado, proud Sympraxian. Opinions and Philly attytood are my own.