Fun fact: “dogfood” (one word) has become a verb, at least in the business slang lexicon. “Dogfooding” is synonymous with “eating one’s own dog food,” which in turn refers to a business’s practice of using its own products—the same products it manufactures and sells to its customers—in the conduct of its business. This practice is generally considered a healthy sign for a business—how can you trust a business that uses its competitors’ products? It has a dark flip side, however: “not invented here,” the refusal to use someone else’s technology simply because your business didn’t come up with it, even if your own equivalent technology is inferior or nonexistent.
What happens when you take an activity that is traditionally controlled or managed by a central system or authority, and distribute that control into the hands of larger communities?
In one of the many memorable scenes in the 1987 film The Princess Bride, the disguised hero, Westley (played by Cary Elwes) rescues the captured princess (Robin Wright) from the evil Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) by challenging Vizzini to a battle of wits involving a bottle of wine, two goblets, and the deadly poison iocane. Westley takes the goblets, administers the poison out of Vizzini’s sight, and challenges Vizzini to drink from one. Vizzini spends several minutes overintellectualizing to decide which one is poisoned, and even switches the goblets while Westley is distracted. Finally, he chooses one and they both drink. Vizinni gloats over his superior intellect until he keels over dead.
As mentioned many times in this space, cloud-based services are becoming increasingly attractive to businesses of all sizes for all kinds of applications, from web servers and e-commerce to big data, machine learning, and the internet of things (IoT). With its convenience, security, flexibility, and low cost, cloud has many advantages over building, equipping, and staffing an on-premise data center.
To the extent that they understood it at all, corporate executives have often regarded talk of deploying critical business applications and data in “the cloud” with suspicion: “How,” they asked, “do we guarantee security when our applications and data are in someone else’s data center, not ours?”
It’s a strange irony: The more we try to make technology simpler, easier, more intuitive, and more convenient for end users, the more complex it becomes.
Consider the personal computer. The earliest PCs were simple by modern standards, with straightforward hardware architecture and minimally functional operating systems. But the user interfaces (C:\> prompt, anyone?) were opaque to anyone who wasn’t a computer engineer or hobbyist.