User-Centricity, App-Centricity and the Cloud

This post has been prompted by a tweet exchange today between myself and James Urquhart. He wrote:

Basically, as compute moves from server to app centric model, networking moving from switch/router to connectivity-centric ops model.

Let me first totally agree with what he says there: things like OpenStack allow us to move up one level of abstraction to what people like Rich Miller call “constellations” of servers, storage, networking etc. which have higher-level parts and higher-level connections than physical servers and interfaces.

But does it go far enough? Personally I don’t think so: it’s great that technologies and standards progress to make life of developers and technical operations people better, but none of this makes life better for the customer / user.

I’d like the model pass through the stage of “app centric” real quick to get to “user-centric”, which is really an alternate way of saying “solve the user’s problem” instead of “building cool apps”. As long as the focus of all of this cloud stuff is “make one app work better/faster/cheaper”, there’s little benefit to the user who ultimately pays all of our bills.