Cloud Computing is really just IT as a service!
What is Cloud Computing?
Historically, the concepts behind cloud computing can be attributed to John McCarthy who in 1961 said, “If computers of the kind I have advocated become the computers of the future, then computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility.…The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry.”
Just as John described almost 50 years ago, cloud computing is a new paradigm where computing resources are available when needed, and you pay for their use in much the same way as for household utilities. Just as water is piped to your home and you pay for as much or as little as you use, cloud computing resources are available whenever needed and charges are based on how much you use them. When you turn it off, the water that you would have used is available for use by others, in the same way, shared cloud resources can be used by others when not used by you.
The IT industry has a habit of latching onto buzzwords and applying them everywhere. “Cloud” is no exception. After many false starts and bobbled introductions, it is now safe to say that the world has reached the Cloud Age. Everyone is talking about it. Over the last 12 months, just about every IT vendor on the planet has introduced a new product, solution, or service with the word “Cloud” in the title.
To begin to understand the term cloud computing we first need to establish that the ‘cloud’ is a metaphor for the Internet and is an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it conceals. For those of you who have ever seen a computer network diagram, you will remember that the Internet is always depicted as a cloud.
To understand cloud computing further, let’s start with a definition.
As a practical baseline for our discussion, we cite the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of cloud computing published October 7, 2009 which seems to have gained the most traction in defining the cloud:
“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”
I know I already have a few of you confused. The terms convenient, rapidly provisioned and minimal effort are not normally associated with IT.
What we are really talking about here is ‘technology as a service’.
As we move forward, all new IT functionality will come to businesses as an ‘external service’. It will become increasingly illogical to think of IT as outsourced. Companies will no longer think of buying a technology product first and then outsourcing it later but will think of buying the ‘service’ first.
IT Managers and decision makers inside these businesses will have an increasingly vital role because ‘external services’ will more than ever become a core component of business success.
In my next blog post I will look at the common elements which make cloud computing different from its predecessors.