All these questions are still being thrashed out, and all these software products are at different levels of maturity, with projects seeking the attention of developers to build out the clouds of their dreams -- meaning customers easily get confused.

Rather than stay confused, many customers look to trust one company's vision, whether it's that of VMware, the virtualization market leader, Amazon, the public cloud leader, Google ( GOOG), which pioneered many cloud concepts and has now begun offering its own Google Cloud, or International Business Machines ( IBM), which calls its offering SmartCloud.

The problem is that when you trust one company you wind up back at square one, locked into a proprietary technology that may not grow into the global Internet cloud you want because you're depending on one company to develop it.

I call this the cloud runaround. It's the big technology debate of our time. It's what will define this decade as devices defined the 2000s, the Internet defined the 1990s, client-server did the 1980s and personal computers did the 1970s.

The winners will gain untold riches. The losers will get jobs working for the winners. The outcome is unknown. Everyone's crystal ball is murky.

The fun has just gotten started for technologists and investors alike.

At the time of publication, Blankenhorn was long MSFT, GOOG and IBM.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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