What is the Cloud?

Feb 28, 2013

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Call this article ‘Cloud computing 101, for Dummies’: it’s really geared to you if you are at the beginning of your learning-curve. Truth be told, you won’t be there alone.

Even though some feel that this article ought to have been published a decade ago, the reality is that there is a huge difference in level of understanding of cloud computing concepts.

And it does not help that some relabel and rename concept to set themselves apart in the market place. Salesforce initially relabelled it with ‘no software’. What’s that all about?


“What is the Cloud? – Defined

Cloud computing is a term that has been evolving. And it will evolve for some time to come.  It really relates to the next era in the world of computing, whereby, generally speaking companies substitute in-house ownership of (a portion of a company’s) servers and software for third party cloud-based services.

I like Wikipedia’s simple definition as “on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user.”

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) refers to it as…

“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.  This cloud model promotes availability … “ (cloud computing definition)

What is the cloud ::
5 Traits of Cloud Computing

5 Essential Characteristics of Cloud Computing

As per NIST, it’s as follows:

  1. On-demand self-service, meaning you can use computer capabilities, like server time or network storage, without  human help from that service provider.
  2. Broad network access, means that you can easily access these capabilities through a range of platforms  ranging from mobile phones, laptops and PDAs.
  3. Resource pooling, refers to a provider’s resources such as storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth, and virtual machines. The concept of pooling refers to a multi-tenant model, whereby these resources are dynamically (re-) assigned to a multiple of consumers like yourself, responding to demand. Location independent.
  4. Rapid elasticity: to you, as a consumer, it appears that the said capabilities are available in unlimited supply at any point in time.
  5. Measured Service, means that a provider & you as a consumer can monitor and control a metered utilization of the services provided.   Measurements can be of storage, processing, bandwidth and user accounts, and usually involve a level of abstraction for ease of use. ‘Pay per use’ is a commonly used term in cloud computing.

3 Models

Cloud computing comes in 3 service models:


Next (upcoming article): 4 cloud deployment models. Which one to choose?


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