By Walter Lindsay, Director of Solution Architecture, Liaison Technologies
The Oklahoma state legislature once passed a bill banning “obtuse verbiage” in bills so that citizens could more easily understand the laws. Those of us who speak and write about cloud computing and SOA are as likely to weave impenetrable semantic fogs as are legislators.
Industry analysts coin distinctive terms so that trends can be named, researched and written about. Engineers and marketers invent words and phrases to describe ideas for which there is no name. We often use words in specialized ways. We use references to science fiction novels. Jokes become codified in the industry as well-known phrases.
We aren’t obfuscating. Usually. Sometimes we don’t understand the inner logic of what we are describing, so we are merely struggling to communicate. Occasionally we are just feeling insecure and have the emotional need to sound smart — let’s call it “Aggrandizement-Induced Obtuse Verbiage.” AIOV is surprisingly common. Sometimes we have nothing to say and don’t want to admit it. With the fear that I will be accused of this, I will end this line of thought. But first, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am guilty of all of these when speaking about clouds, SOA and many other things. George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” is scorchingly applicable to those of us who talk about technology.
I believe that an effective way to learn about cloud computing and SOA is to start with concrete examples. For instance, if you are interested in improving your company’s ability to quickly offer new services, and you understand that data integration problems keep getting in the way, in short order you can find articles which tell you that company X found some exciting result via cloud computing and SOA. That’s nice. You might even understand the result the article claims. I admit that often I don’t – until I learn the terminology and the context of the business being discussed.
While engineers often download code and experiment with it, business people often have to understand the business needs and benefits before such an article makes sense. For instance, the blog entry by Paul Stamas, CIO of Mohawk Fine Papers, describes that Mohawk is a $300M company with only 5 IT staff. He describes how they have rapidly opened up new lines of business. He says that they have never had an outage in their 11 years of relying on cloud computing. I can understand that, without having to look up any trendy terms in a nerd-hipster IT dictionary.
In my next entry I will describe a way to think about cloud computing and SOA, a way to put these ideas in business contexts.