Day 10: The Cloud … & the rain

As I sit here backing up my daughter’s phone, to the cloud, and back again, round and round we go, until all of the files land (hopefully) in the right place (on the new phone), I cannot help but think back to a day around 20 years ago.

I am quite sure I was leaning against a wall and staring at my feet (habit) in the office of one of the IT senior managers, who wasn’t actually there. In his seat was the VP of Network Services, feet on the desk, cowboy hat tipped to the side. Well, he didn’t actually have a cowboy hat on, but he might as well have. He was from Nashville. Or maybe Raleigh, not sure. His director was also there, sitting near him – my boss’s boss’s boss. And the cowboy was going on and on about the pc upgrade program and how we had to do it but he kind of wished we didn’t.

You see, the cowboy said, desks… laptops… they will be obsolete very soon (remember, this is the late nineties). And from that moment forward, for about 30 minutes, we cartooned a world where employees could log in from anywhere, on anything, anytime, and do their work. Not into big mainframes (which we had at the time, running at about 256 MB of memory and about the size of 4 deep freezers) but nimble applications, creating the illusion that you were working quietly on your own, personal computer.

We doodled on the board, thought about the cost savings in support (this gets IT executives very excited), and guessed at when it would happen. Cloud computing.

We certainly were not the only ones in IT talking about it. The idea had been swimming around for years. But the vocabulary was becoming concrete. And everyone in the IT department was getting very excited.

And then 2000 hit, and 2001 and …. sigh.  Nortel was a fantastic company for so many of us.

Published by Gwyneth Edwards

Academic and practitioner in the field of strategic management.