The cloud has started to emerge as a collection of Balkanised and disassociated cloudlets. That’s the view of Pegasystems co-founder and CEO Alan Trefler, speaking at his company’s user conference in Las Vegas this week.

“For a customer to think that, by nestling into the cloud, everything they do and see and touch will be automatic and inexpensive and not require integration — there’s not a lot of evidence for that,” he said, comparing the hysteria around cloud to the 16th century tulip boom.

According to Trefler, there is no shortage of people and participants with a deeply vested interest in promoting cloud as aggressively as possible. While stressing that he was supportive of cloud (and Pegasystems will announce new deals with AWS and Azure later today), he also urged caution.

“We’re in a world where buyers should have the most ultimate cynicism about what they’re seeing and what they’re hearing, because rarely has there been a moment where there’s so much BS in the marketplace.”

He described some of the behaviour in the market as delusional. “We’re seeing people going from a world in which the cloud was not actually well understood to a world where everything’s got to be on the cloud.”

He told delegates at Pegaworld there were a number of problems with this.

“One, the cloud is actually not a place. It’s not Boise (Idaho). You can’t go to the cloud.”

Instead, he said it is a way of thinking about your business and organising how you work. “It should make you responsive, should make it possible for you to deal with variability in workload, and bring certain things together.”

He also compared to the current hype around cloud to the reception CRM received in the late ’90s.

“An interesting example that some of you may still be living with comes from a guy named Tom Siebel and Siebel Systems. They were the dominant (CRM) player in the late 1990s. In 2002, there was a cover of Forbes magazine that gave me a little clue that perhaps this panacea had hit a tipping point.

“He was talking about how his software gave him the power to ‘see around corners’. See around corners! He didn’t see around the corner two years later when the company died.”

The point Trefler said he was making was that decisions built on a wave of hype, unrealised expectations, and oversimplification do enormous damage to business.

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