Buzzwords: Cloud and AI

Hey! Sorry, it has been a little busy around here!

I wanted to just do a virtual shaking of the head, but also offer kudos at the same time.

The tech industry is pure genius. Not only because of the players’ command of the multitude of technical subjects available out there, but because of the raw skill of the marketers within their ranks.

What do I mean?

There are a couple of buzzwords out there that I want to pay some attention to, and offer op-ed on: Cloud, and AI. Now remember, this is an op-ed, and I try to use basic words and phrases to appeal to as many readers as I can. This discussion uses basic scenarios, and each topic deserves (and receives) far more analysis than what I give them here.

Cloud

The word “Cloud”, in this context, means Internet. Thanks to the mighty graphic clip in Visio, we have all come to understand that the “Cloud” means the Internet. So what? Whoopdeedoo – the Internet has been around for quite some time, now. Sure, the technology available to us to expand and support (and, conversely – attack) that same Internet has grown – but it’s the same premise.

I get a huge chuckle when I see phrases tossed around like “Cloud Hosting”, “Cloud-based Apps”, etc. It’s a buzzword. It’s a pitch. Let me tell you why I believe this:

Hosting, whether you are talking about the servers that provision an app for your organization, or the applications that those servers provision, are always hosted. That is the thing. Servers at some layer or another provision applications for us to use… whether it is a client/server app, or a web site / web-based app. The Cloud Hosting aspect – is purely a description of geography.

Servers, from the business perspective… can be either on-premises (Self-Hosted), or off (Cloud-Hosted). By on-premises, that means that the servers are physically sitting somewhere on company property. Your users access that application over the company network.

If your servers are sitting somewhere else, and your users access those applications by means of the Internet – it’s Cloud Hosted.

What about Cloud Computing? That sounds FANCY!

Well, it kind of is. Cloud computing, in a nutshell, is hosting and somehow executing all of your needful business applications over, and by means of, some cloud hosting arrangement. You have little to no servers on your network. Your key application and computing infrastructure is somewhere else. Generally, in a physically secure, electronically secure location, complete with a team of system administrators and other professionals looking over “your” servers and applications.

Is it cheaper or better? Well, yes, and no. The answer to that question begs another discussion all unto itself. I personally can make a business case for either one, depending on the organization in question. I, as a technology manager have moved “things” to the cloud, and I have moved “things” FROM the cloud. There are no fixed, hard-core answers to this question. It is something to study and analyze.

So, to make a very long story short, self-hosting/on-premise hosting and cloud-hosting are truly terms driven by geography, and to the same degree, by level of responsibility to each organization involved.

AI

I am not sure if you have watched the movie Terminator 3: Judgement Day – but that movie comes to mind for many when the acronym AI is used. Artificial Intelligence – that paradigm that we use to describe how something can operate, based on it’s ability to process rules, and can be taught new things. The something in question is generally some kind of device, equipment, appliance, or whatever else. Even robots.

I’m going to tell you something else. And – this is just my opinion.

AI has been around for a while. Since about 1950. And up to this point, every example that I have seen of AI is constructed of the same thing that a software development project has required:

  • Requirements analysis
  • Technical specification gathering
  • Programming
  • Documentation
  • Training
  • Implementation
  • Ongoing Maintenance and Upgrades

You see, my friends – AI, to me (at least with all of the examples that I have seen to date) is nothing more than slapping a new title or label on something that we have done such a poor job on for decades, in an attempt to reinvigorate it, and solve a huge problem in the industry:

Business rules and business logic. We’re terrible at building them.

The science fiction community’s definition of AI, where an AI entity can become self-aware, and teach ITSELF new things without human input – is a very scary proposition, and very specific steps should be taken to avoid that scenario. Still, I think we are years away from that.

Kudos to the marketing community for slapping a multi-billion-dollar label on business rules and business requirements.

It is for these reasons that I feel that the marketers in the technology community basically created 2 new markets out of existing markets – and somehow profit margins exploded, by using different words.

 

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