April 2012: Cloud Computing Explained
Why is cloud computing so hard to understand? The answer would be because it covers the entire range of organisation requirements, from back-office enterprise systems to various ways such systems can be implemented. Therefore, many different definitions are acceptable and fall within the overall topic.
But why use the term “cloud computing” at all? It originates from the work to develop easy-to-use consumer IT (Web 2.0) and its differences from existing difficult-to-use enterprise IT systems.
A Web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with other users or to change content, in contrast to non-interactive Web 1.0 sites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information. Although the term Web 2.0 suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to new technology but rather it’s an emerging pattern in the ways software developers and end-users use the Web.
Similarly, cloud computing is an emerging usage pattern that draws on existing forms of IT resources. Cloud computing isn’t a new technology: “The cloud is the ‘real Internet’ or what the Internet was really meant to be in the first place, an endless computer made up of networks of networks of computers.” – Dot Cloud: The 21st Century Business Platform.
In layman’s terms, cloud computing is simply a platform where individuals and companies use the Internet to access endless hardware, software and data resources for most of their computing needs and people-to-people interactions, leaving the technical issues to third-party suppliers.”
According to Dot Cloud, “There will be many ways in which the cloud will change businesses and the economy, most of them hard to predict, but one theme is already emerging. Businesses are becoming more like the technology itself: more adaptable, more interwoven and more specialised. These developments may not be new, but the advent of cloud computing will speed them up.”
In conclusion, cloud computing isn’t new technology; it’s a newly evolved delivery model. The key point is that cloud computing focuses on the end users and their abilities to do what they want to do, singularly or in communities, without the need for specialised IT support. The technology layer is abstracted, or hidden, and is simply represented by a drawing of a “cloud.”
Adapted and summarised from an article by Andy Mulholland, Jon Pyke and Peter Fingar posted on TechTarget.