This changed with virtualisation of the x86 stack and the ability to slice the compute resource by time and space allocation. People realised they had computing requirements for 20 per cent instead of 100 per cent of the time and started to look at more efficient compute delivery.
It's here the death knell for outsourcing sounded and the birth of cloud computing came about. Just as the economics of mainframes sustained a profitable industry and made sense for customers for many decades, cloud computing has the same characteristics.
These are fundamental economic drivers that provide economic value for the supplier and customer. The economics are fuelled by organisations in vertical industry sectors needing different computing processing at different times of the day, month, season and year.
For example, spikes in December typically see the highest demand from the banks and retailers, but very low requirements from manufacturers.
This leads us to the "pay-as-you-go" and "pay-for-what-you-use" cloud computing models today that provide the best economies of scale. For now, at least.
Time, space and economics
So back to the question: "Is cloud a passing fad"? Well, I found this question particularly valuable because it challenged the room to look at the macro picture, instead of the day-to-day technical demand of getting up and running on cloud.
Mainframe, outsourcing, ASP, on demand, cloud -- all of these are simply iterations of ways to enable your business using the latest technology and investment models.
Cloud, mobility, BYOD, collaboration plus the hot new technology yet to be invented -- all of these will be superseded by something, just like mainframes and outsourcing have been.
The point is to take a macro view on embracing the dual operational and cost benefits while they're available and be ready to journey into the future when it's time. Because that time will surely come given that change is a constant.
Chris Meager is CEO at Logicalis Australia.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.