Who Wins in the Cloud, and Why?
There's some interesting deep-think in Tim O'Reilly's post about cloud computing, and also a nice neat summary of what people really mean when they talk about the cloud (briefly, Utility computing, e.g., Amazon's web services; Platform as a Service, e.g., Google AppEngine and Salesforce's force.com; and Cloud-based end-user applications.)
Back on the big-think side, Nick Carr challenges O'Reilly's view that the network effect (O'Reilly: "applications win if they get better the more people use them") is the sole arbiter of success in the 2.0 world, pointing to examples of "superior product and software design, superb marketing and branding, smart partnerships, and proprietary file standards that tend to lock in users" and "scale and scope advantages" as factors that continue to matter in this brave new world.
"Applications, or other kinds of online services, win for many reasons on the network. To be sure, one possible reason is the network effect."
An interesting exchange about the future of the cloud and the IT industry, well worth reading at your leisure.