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So I’m driving down the road one day listening to some classic rock on the radio (“Get your motor runnin’….Head out on the Highway…Lookin’ for adventure….” I think you get the picture), and I have this thought:  You know, all this public cloud stuff…it’s a lot like my car radio.  Let me explain.

I live in work in a pretty “non-techy” city.  Most of my friends have pretty normal jobs like bankers and teachers and skilled trades people – most are not like me immersed in this “Cloud First”, “Big Data”, “Machine Learning” world.  When small talk inevitably gets around to work, one of my buddies will inevitably ask me something like “What the heck is all this “Cloud” stuff about any way?  What is “The Cloud”.  I try to start simple with some discussion about servers and security  and things like this, but then the inner geek in me starts going all basis and the conversation is gone.  With my friends none the wiser and my position as team nerd ensured for all time.  But as I listen to Steppenwolf on this awesome cruising road, I start to think….The “Cloud” is really like my car radio.  Even my Insurance Agent could understand this.  So how is the cloud like a car radio?

Well, at least for me, the radio is a critical component of my driving experience.  It brings me a lot of great content (like Steppenwolf) and I really don’t have to do a lot to keep it running.  I depend on it to be there and it usually is.  Do I have any earthly idea about how it runs?  Nope.  Do I care? Nope. It just has to be there 24 x 7, 356 days a year.  The people who bring me the content are always looking for ways to keep me engaged, so they keep the content fresh.  Some content providers, like Sirius or XM here in the ‘States, charge me a subscription fee to provide content?  Sounding a little familiar?

But, in my day job, I get to see not only the benefits of the real cloud (the one that provides me HR and Finance and Supply Chain and CRM Content), but I also see the unfolding challenges of providing that content.  Without waxing too philosophical about this, I would say that 2017 has been a year of true discovery for many cloud providers.  Using the car radio analogy, not only do we have several stations providing content for our radio, but we also have car radio providers telling us that THEIR radios are the ones best suited to provide what ever content you might want.  Then they ask, “by the way, What content do you want?”.  When we tell them, they say they don’t exactly have THAT content …yet…or that THEIR radio can’t play that content … yet..but it will soon – maybe with Radio 2.0.

As an interested radio consumer, you decide to peel back another layer on this cloud onion.  “How exactly does your cloud radio work?”, you ask.  “Great question,” they say “and thanks for asking it”.  “In our cloud radio, all subscribers get the same radio and the same content, all on one station.  It just sounds different to each listener – optimized to your experience”.  Well, if they put a specialized radio in each car that would work I say.  This, I am told is their “private cloud” radio.  But, in order to get the true, “public cloud” radio experience, they will need to run a super-dooper radio station and you may have to re-learn the way you use your radio, the cloud pundits say.  And there will be several thousand listeners tuned in to the same station.  The benefits are intuitive, but now I worry that they may be trying to be all things to all people.  How will that work?  If everyone tunes in at the same time to the same station, to hear different tunes, how will that work?  I am told that each car will have its own tenant at the station, so when I tune in, I am only listening to my tenant.

The challenges of car radios have been addressed long ago, but they continue to get better.  It used to be that you could buy aftermarket car radio’s to improve your listening experience.  This was sort of like client/server to my fellow data geeks.  But like car radio’s I am sure that this “Cloud” business will continue to evolve.

My year end prediction is that 2018 will really be the year that this Cloud business really goes mainstream.  You might laugh and say that this was the case in 2013, but I would say that in my Car Radio terms, 2013 was car CD’s and 2018 is Pandora or Spotify.

Web / WiFi  enabled  car radios are just now hitting their stride.  Mark my word, “The Cloud” will be fitting its stride in 2018.

Maybe my analogy will help you make sense of what you do when you speak with Friends at Holiday Parties this year.  I’ll sure be working it with my crowd.  Let me hear how it goes…

Happy Holidays!