What is Cloud Computing? Cloud Computing

At its simplest, cloud computing is the dynamic delivery of informationtechnology resources and capabilities as a service over the Internet. Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. It generally incorporates infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).

According to Gartner Group, the attributes of cloud computing are:

  • Service-based
  • Scalable and elastic
  • Shared
  • Metered by use
  • Use of Internet technologies

The most frequently cited benefits of cloud computing are:

  • It is agile, with ease and speed of deployment
  • Its cost is use-based, and will likely be reduced
  • In-house IT costs are reduced
  • Capital investment is reduced
  • The latest technology is always delivered
  • The use of standard technology is encouraged and facilitated

As applications migrate to the Internet “cloud,” as Internet access becomes ubiquitous, and as low-cost, ultra-lightweight devices (such as the new Apple iPad tablet) and inexpensive, handheld devices built on Google’s Chrome Operating System or on Google’s Android all provide access to what is increasingly the ubiquitous Internet, the number and types of tasks taking advantage of the new technology will increase by several orders of magnitude, going far beyond the comparatively modest list of things that we use computers and the Internet for today.

Kelpie in agility competition. (Photo by Amos T. Fairchild, licensed, under GFDL)

Kelpie in agility competition. (Photo by Amos T. Fairchild, licensed, under GFDL)

While a plethora of introductory books related to cloud computing have been published describing how to use specific Google- or Amazon-provided services (a search for “Cloud Computing” on Amazon.com lists more than 927 results), there are few implementation-centered books that focus on the enterprise, the major vendors, the services they provide, how to choose among them, and the supporting vendors, or on how to build real, working applications quickly and economically.

Having seen it all for more than 45 years, I retain a healthy skepticism of the supposedly new and unique. But I remain curious and excited about the truly innovative. Cloud computing is the real deal. It marks a true paradigm shift, whose effects will eventually dwarf those of the dot.com revolution.

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