A Cloud Integration Parable

Walter Lindsay
May 10, 2012

Helene couldn’t stop talking about “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She read quotes from it out loud. I didn’t get it.

Albert once told a story that only two or three mathematicians in the world understood. It took a while, but he convinced people. His last name was Einstein.

Tom said truly profound phrases and then made the mistake of continuing to talk. He was nuts. But he got something profoundly right every once in a while.

Each of these people had something to say. They were explaining something important.  Something important about life, about the universe, for many people. Something they thought would help people.

Helene was speaking to a tired college student with his head in math problem sets and software programs. He was worried about getting all the coursework done and holding down a job at the same time. He wanted to rest his tired mind so he could tackle whatever was next.  He wasn’t in the mood for Tennessee Williams. Now, perhaps “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” might have really helped, but he – I – was too tired to slow Helene down enough to explain, and she wanted to share, not explain, the power of what she was reading. She wasn’t speaking language that I could understand, a language that matched my interests and emotional needs.

What Albert wrote was powerful enough that the world eventually listened. Later in his life, when he lectured, the blackboards he used were never erased, but were taken down and stored as treasures.  People responded as if his genius bent space itself. Ever seen a “gravity well” in a movie involving a black hole? That’s part of his General Theory of Relativity, that gravity is like bent space. In his case, the world worked very hard to adapt to what he said.

Tom needed friends to walk alongside him and in a brotherly way restrain him.  He had to adapt to the world.

Helene got her Ph.D. from an Ivy League school. She says things worth saying. Unless she has changed, she cares deeply about her research, and strongly wants to communicate what she has to say. But the online biographical material about her wasn’t written by her. Somebody else got to know her areas of research and wrote simplified descriptions that non-specialists like us can understand.

Similarly, many have interpreted Einstein’s ideas for the rest of us.

Somebody with Tom’s name lives in the Midwest.

Without a communications broker, many worthy software applications become cut off from the rest of the world. Some achieve dominance in use cases which apply to large number of users, but which apply imperfectly, so still need some adapting. The business model of cloud applications requires them to avoid special cases and instead to address the needs of the many. A broker, which some call a “cloud services broker” or CSB, sits in the middle, adapting the broadly usable services of the cloud application to the specific needs of a user. Some applications provide best-of-breed services which, together with others services, can address the needs of users – and it is the CSB in the middle that handles the complexity of the stitching.

You might accuse me at this point of speaking only in generalities. Let me be more concrete. The economics of cloud applications and expectations of cloud users were told to me. The necessity of a CSB to handle the complexity was explained to me. This was explained in powerful and broadly applicable way. However, this tale reached my ears in language that many readers of this blog would not understand. Nonetheless, this tale is worth hearing. And now to the point:

This article is the broker of what it is explaining.  Someone described the story using general use cases.  The broad audience of hearers wants it adapted to address their specific concerns.  You be judge whether I told the story in a way that addresses the complexity and communicates well, or whether I hired Tom to write it for me.    


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