Cloud Computing for Dummies: review

According to the authors, Cloud Computing For Dummies (Wiley, 2010) is written for diverse audiences, including:

  1. business people who want little or nothing to do with technology;
  2. an IT person who knows a lot about technology, but is new to cloud computing.

It is difficult to write a book for a mixed audience of this kind. The authors propose a structural solution – that all readers should read the opening handful of chapters, introducing cloud computing in general, and then select the parts best aligned to their interests. The detailed contents page and the policy of writing each chapter to read self-sufficiently does make this strategy workable – though of course it means that for any one reader, chunks of the book are likely to prove irrelevant.

The opening chapters are indeed accessible to both kinds of readers identified above. They provide a standard introduction to cloud computing, covering such topics as:

  • the various components (infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service);
  • the value and cost of cloud computing; 
  • management strategy.

The writing here is functional rather than stylish.(In fact,I read the book from cover to cover and, frankly, found the style pedestrian throughout.)

Subsequent chapters are less introductory and make greater demands on the reader. Of the two the two types of readers identified above, I judge that the IT crowd will be more likely (and more prepared) than the business crowd to cope with them – and not only in the more IT-oriented chapters. The authors (all partners at Hurwitz & Associates) might have done better simply to have ignored the business reader, for whom better introductions are available elsewhere.

Overall, the book is underwhelming. As a reader, I’ve had mixed experiences of the Dummies series. I wonder if the editors focus too exclusively on conformity with the Dummies formula, rather than on more general matters such style, voice, and tone. Cloud Computing for Dummies seems to have been edited more with the eye than the ear. A book of this sort doesn’t have to aspire to lyrical heights – but neither does it need to feel flat and ungainly.

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About Anthony Haynes

Communications Director, FJWilson Creative Director, The Professional and Higher Partnership Ltd - publisher of the Creative Writing Studies imprint.

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