Marketing Jargon: What is Cloud Computing?
Some may think it odd to include cloud computing as marketing jargon, but it seems that each day I read more and more articles on how the cloud does this, and the cloud does that. True, cloud computing is a technology, but often times it seems it is being used for more than that, like a silver bullet, a tourniquet that can solve all of a business' problems, and you get the point.
Although there is plenty of confusion on the meaning of cloud computing I think the confusion lies more in the exacts… the details, then anything else.
"The idea of cloud computing comes from the early days of the internet where we drew the network as a cloud. So we didn't care where the messages went.. the go inside come out the other and the cloud hid it from us. That meant we didn't need to think about routing we didn't need to think about networks, so we had a cloud around packets. The next evolution was we had the World Wide Web, which gave us a cloud around documents, you could put your URL in and you could get a document back from anywhere around the world."
- Kevin Marks, Developer Advocate - Google
Cloud Computing is the thought that the network becomes the platform. Instead of saying I have a Mac, I have a PC, I have a desktop, I have a laptop, I have a mobile, we will say I have a network. This is a very simple concept when you get down to it. However, like many technologies the worth of it is not found necessarily how it is implemented, but it what it can do for you.
Centralization: Install once - patch once. Applications need only be installed one time and they can then be used on all of your devices. Same with upgrades and patches; patch once and all of your devices will benefit. The same goes for your documents, update, say a presentation using your laptop and when you open that presentation on your desktop the saved version is there ready to go. As long as your devices can connect to the cloud all of your stuff will be able accessible from any device, anywhere in the world.
Compatibility: A fully produced cloud computing solution can make it so you can use the same tools on your laptop, desktop, cell-phone, without syncing the information or sharing information across. Since the information is centralized all you need is a means to connect with the information, nothing more.
Maintenance Cheap: Cloud computing offers SMBs and personal users the chance to leverage resources that hereto only enterprise sized companies could use. Depending
Reliability: The problem with things that are centralized is the all your eggs in one basket problem. If your basket is attacked all of your eggs are destroyed. Not so with cloud computing. Since the network is the platform and not some server, if a server with your information on it gets destroyed you still have the rest of the network. The larger the network (the more individual computers and connections that make it up) the more reliable the cloud becomes.
Adding this all together and cloud computing is an extremely powerful platform for personal and business use. In the words of Tim O'Reilly Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media cloud computing fullfils the Internet and makes it the "network of networks." All you have to do is plug yourself in and hold on tight.
But this would not be a marketing jargon article if I stopped there. As a concept, cloud computing will in fact be the next generation. I have no doubts about this, but there are many things that need to be ironed out first.
Non-Standardized: This is currently being worked on, but one of the main problems is no standardization of cloud platforms. Earlier this year several cloud computing firms went under. Since there isn't a standard, applications built for those clouds did not port over to other clouds. This unfortunately left several businesses in the lurch.
Security: Yet another area being worked on is security. Cloud computing is the perfect antithesis to things like DDOS attacks (hackers will have to leverage an extreme amount of bots to wipe out information in a large cloud and again the bigger the better), but imagine all your data with one centralized login accessible anywhere in the world. Hackers can breach financial institutions, they will be able to breach the cloud. Authentication will have to be beefed up and even more important, businesses must enforce security protocols with their employees.
A New Business Model: Businesses will have to adapt to a new business model. Previously, a business would look at how many workers they had and could then purchase computers on a 1 for 1 or maybe a 2 for 1 basis (maybe a desktop and some sort of mobile device like an UMPC or laptop). They could also plan to purchase servers based on needs. Overall, cloud computing will save businesses money since you purchase what you need, but the average business is ill prepared to understand what they will need and may sorely under-budget resources. This point alone makes it difficult for businesses to migrate. Right now you know how much it costs to buy a computer, and you probably don't know how much your computers cost in maintenance and power. You will then compare the computer price (without the maintenance costs) to the cloud price and assume the cloud price is more expensive. There maybe a lot of questions as to the cloud being always on and thus you loose money because of that, migration of data costs, training on the new systems, and a host of other costs will make businesses pause before wanting to jump in. Those businesses who do not budget these costs, nor even think about these costs and jump unto the cloud might feel cheated and may even take it out on the Web Hosts.
Cloud computing is a lot like the automobile. Back when cars were first invented there was a huge amount of problems. There weren't mechanics and gas stations everywhere, in fact people took their cars to bicycle mechanics to get them fixed. The average road was a horrible drive for a car since they were bumpy and shock absorbers weren't invented yet. Many cars back then depending on the roads were far slower than horses. All of these problems (far more than what cloud computing is facing) and yet it would be difficult picturing a city without cars in it. Most people probably couldn't go without a car.
When you get past the marketing jargon and pie in the sky platitudes, cloud computing is still the way of the future, make no mistake about it.
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