My conspiracy theory is that what Microsoft, and others, had done was, in a year where nobody had any major releases to take the excess capacity and re-launch existing technology, a concept older than the internet itself. They took something that was considered very boring and super geeky (hardware, network, and virtualisation), even by most software developers, and made it cool. Brilliant!
Almost any vendor in the infrastructure space jumped on the band wagon and they could do that quickly (because after all it was basically just a name change). They were now cool!
But then something strange happened. Because it was suddenly mainstream, IT managers and executives that hadn't been involved hands-on for a decade, started to pick up these things and run various kinds of feasibility studies, technology roadmaps and transformation programs because they wanted to be cool too. Two years before, the guy with the greasy hair and really thick glasses from "network services" would just set up the infrastructure, but now it was an executive discipline.
The most interesting one is the belief that if you install a server on a cloud infrastructure, you can’t control where your data is, it will flow freely all over the world in this great indefinable soup that is the cloud. You don't know if your customer data is in the UK or Thailand.
Man, all of this because we couldn't just leave the guy with the thick glasses to do his job.
Call it cloud, call it whatever, but my conclusion is that it is actually very cool. Installing a server took less time than an average intercourse and that is, I can reveal, incredibly fast.
I would certainly look for admin functionality like the above, even if it was installing in our own data centres because it makes life so much easier (agile if you like) for the development teams in the bank. For core systems I probably wouldn't go with a standard hosted solution without a very thorough investigation of the physical security at the centres and I would, perhaps, ask for a "ring fencing" of our technical assets. IBM and others are also working hard on promoting what they call a "virtual private cloud", which is an interesting concept that I shall leave for another post.