Drawing a Curtain Around the Cloud
This week, the cloud computing start-ups Bromium and ScaleXTreme each announced exceptional investor funding of $9.2 and $11 million respectively. Bromium promises to deliver security services for the cloud, while ScaleXTreme specializes in helping companies manage other cloud service providers such as Amazon EC2 and VMware. While the amount of funding is high, the concepts behind these two start-ups reveal a surprising new development in cloud computing: less of a focus on innovation, and more of an emphasis on restriction.
Investors like cloud computing because it has demonstrated that it can actually make money. Businesses essentially lease software and hardware as needed. They can scale up or down in a matter of hours, which is vital in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced global economy. What is striking about both Bromium and ScaleXTreme is the fact that each of these companies are providing a sort of aftermarket cloud computing service. The hard-core programmers, such as Amazon, have already established their merits in terms of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. Now we’re starting to see the evolution and corresponding investor gold rush of Management as a Service (MaaS?).
Unlike SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS, MaaS is far riskier. Outsourcing your management generally leads to you no longer having a company, simply because management is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks in business. It requires knowing industry-specific procedures and tactics for motivating personnel, as well as understanding how to execute long term goals.
While ScaleXTreme is hardly proposing to take over executive decision making, it introduces a new level of disassociation from the programming process. Will companies en masse delegate the development and oversight of their in-house products and procedures to people they never meet? More importantly, how will it impact technological innovation when those who are responsible for administering the technologies have no direct experience with the particular industry that employs them?
The heavy investor interest in cloud management services indicates that people believe that the next big phase in technology is a kind of domestic dormancy, where information is tended to by highly funded but anonymous guardians. Apple’s recent unveiling of its iCloud service is yet another indicator that we are witnessing the beginning of an era where access privileges generate more excitement than what is actually contained within the digital gates.