In a recent post on the Rackspace blog announcing the CloudU educational program I’m running this year, I explained the concept as follows;

I’ve spent the last 15 years or so owning and running business in a bunch of different industries – from manufacturing to commercial property, from consulting to hospitality. In that time I’ve been forced to wrestle with technology, be it file servers, archaic software or fried hard drives. All the time my forays into technology (and bear in mind that I’m a bit of a geek and enjoy this stuff) have taken my eye of what’s really important … running my business.

Then, a few years ago a start-up out of my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand introduced a SaaS accounting system. With Xero, the promise was no more software upgrades, no hardware hassles, availability anywhere and connectedness with other systems. I got excited.

But as excited as I was, I’ve also become a little frustrated. While those of us in the industry have an innate understanding about how Cloud Computing works, the fact of the matter is that for Joe Average business owner, we may as well be speaking in another language. It struck me that what SMBs really need is a series of educational offerings that starts them out with the basics of Cloud Computing and gives them, by the end of the program, a fairly deep understanding of what the Cloud is all about. Luckily, Rackspace Hosting agrees with this vision and realizes that a better-educated marketplace not only helps Rackspace, but also helps the industry as a whole.

So what are we planning?

We’re going to start of simple. While some may criticize that decision as “low level, same-old thinking,” if we’re able to introduce the Cloud to some folks who wouldn’t otherwise know about it, then starting simple is something for which we don’t need to apologize. Starting this month, and every subsequent month in 2011, we’ll produce a whitepaper around a particular theme of Cloud Computing. The paper will be accompanied by a webinar, and from time to time we’ll consider hosting physical events aligned with popular conferences.

We recently published the first whitepaper Revolution not Evolution: How Computing Differs from Traditional IT and Why it Matters. As part of this I yesterday ran the first CloudU webinar, joined for the panel section by a pair of very able commentators; Rackspace Hosting CTO John Engates, and InformationWeek editor Charles Babcock. We had a great hour, with awesome input from the hundreds of webinar participants.

It was a really fun session and I encourage people looking or a very high level overview of why the Cloud is a revolution, to have a listen to the podcast here.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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