A crowd of daffodils and hosted clouds

Clouds over East Anglia IMG_6609_crop_sml.png

You might recall the poem by William Wordsworth that begins, "I wandered lonely as a cloud." His poem may have been about 'a host of golden daffodils', but the second verse is more appropriate if we pretend that it's about the advocates of cloud computing.

"Continuous as the stars that shine and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance."

I'm sure there are at least ten thousand advocates of cloud computing, tossing a few heady paragraphs into their latest blog or preaching to us all from their twittering stance. "The more fool you," if you're not listening, seems to be the message.

You could say there are now two types of businesses, "Those with their heads buried in the sand and those with their heads in the clouds." That phrase would neatly sum up the present situation and, although it's not quite complimentary to the advocates, their devoutness probably means they'd miss the subtlety. Yes, indeed, the 'Cloud' is being hyped at the moment - and rightly so.

However, as with everything, there is always more than one approach. From religion, which we won't go into, to Coke or Pepsi, Google or 'Yah-who?', ..... to ..... (fill in the blanks) - those of independent mind and billions of social lemmings have all been following one trend or another since time immemorial. If open source was the right answer, Microsoft wouldn't exist. If Asterisk was the 'be all and end all', telephony equipment manufacturers would be falling by the wayside or at least ending up with double-barrelled logos (hmnn.... there's a thought). If Skype was the answer to 'life, the universe and everything', there would be more than just 560 million registered users from a global population fast approaching 7 billion.

Nevertheless, there's no denying the attractiveness of operating in the cloud. From data centres and Software-as-a-Service to communications as a service, many benefits emerge, but there is plenty of room in this universe for non-cloud operations. Where, for example, do managed VoIP services sit? They can be described as 'managed dedicated hosted' or 'private cloud' solutions. Whatever the depiction, those providers need service delivery platforms on which to host their applications and that means server-based, IP-centric, software-only enabling technology components. Ideally, those components will include a high-level API in a general purpose programming language. That leaves the application developer free to concentrate on topics such as call flow, database access and back-end processing, rather than on low-level issues involving SIP and RTP usage.

And finally, it shouldn't be forgotten that, somewhere along the silver lining of the telephony cloud, a gateway to the PSTN will always be needed. On the face of it, 'having your head in the clouds' might seem like a nice slogan for the cloud fraternity, but I'm sure they'd prefer something on the lines of 'walking on cloud nine' (or Wolke Sieben).
"What indeed are mere words worth?" said William.
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