The industry's chieftans express disenchantment with 'the cloud,' but the services keep coming. We look at why we hate cloud computing, but why we need it too.

When it comes to cloud computing, many tech commentators have been quick to ridicule the trend.

Take Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, who two months ago in an onstage interview, treated the world to his latest, loudest takedown of cloud computing.

"All it is, is a computer attached to a network! What are you talking about? ... It's databases! It's operating systems and microprocessors and the internet! And all of a sudden it's none of that - it's the cloud! What are you talking about??"

The audience at the Churchill Club in San Francisco roared its approval.

I used to think His Larryness would come around eventually. He has a long history of ridiculing the latest trend and, eventually, embracing it for marketing purposes.

But Ellison has been singing the same mocking tune about cloud computing for a while, and now others are joining the chorus.

Just recently, both HP's Mark Hurd and IBM's Sam Palmisano have indicated their dislike of the term 'cloud' and its inherent fuzziness.

And rank-and-file IT folks? I would say their reaction to cloud talk has gone beyond the usual snorting and eyerolling. Now they just tune out.

We all know why: cloud computing is such a big tent that it has become a three-ring circus bursting with any technology or service, old or new, that touches the network.

Is there anything revolutionary about software as a service (SaaS)? Or a host that lets you upload your virtual machines over the internet and run them remotely?

If you buy the InfoWorld (PC Advisor's sister title) broad definition of cloud computing - services sold on a subscription or pay-per-use basis over the internet - then the value or innovation offered by 'the cloud' depends wholly on the services being offered.

And so far, the focus has largely been on commodity services that duplicate common applications, development platforms, or server infrastructure.

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