A Google search for the term "Cloud Computing” returns over 74 million results. Three questions come to mind: Why so popular? Who coined the term? And, what exactly does it mean?
The popularity of Cloud Computing is easy to understand. The cost efficiency it affords a business to no longer own or maintain on-site computing resources is a coup for their bottom line. The cloud has allowed upstarts to have never touched their (computing) feet to the ground, while enterprise organizations are pulling out their hair on the best ways to pull the plug on the legacy hardware humming away in their backrooms. With a reported 90% of businesses using the cloud in some form or fashion, it's clear the popularity of cloud computing is only growing with no signs of slowing ahead.
As for who coined the term, that's a subject of debate, but historically, it originated in the mid 90s, with big technology players like Compaq, Netscape and others each laying claim.
The question of what exactly does Cloud Computing mean is what I'd like to focus on. With search results surpassing 74 million, you might imagine there's some variations in the definition. Wikipedia’s goes something like this:
“Cloud computing is a type of internet-based computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., computer networks, servers, storage, applications and services), which can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort. Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and enterprises with various capabilities to store and process their data in either privately owned, or third-party data centers that may be located far from the user–ranging in distance from across a city to across the world. Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economy of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over an electricity network.”
In those millions of search results, there's also quite a few marketing definitions. For example, Microsoft defines cloud computing as “the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and more—over the Internet (the cloud)”. Fair enough, but I actually have a hard time with the “over the internet” part in their definition. After all, if a corporation owns their hardware and networking infrastructure and has a lot of remote workers, the workers would use a VPN and the internet to access the assets. Does this mean they are providing cloud computing? I think most experts would disagree.
Amazon's Amazon Web Services (AWS) says Cloud Computing is “the on-demand delivery of compute power, database storage, applications, and other IT resources through a cloud services platform via the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing” In this definition, AWS is drawing a line around the scope of services to be provided over the internet, as did Microsoft, but they're adding “on-demand” & “pay-as-you-go” concepts to the model.
AWS’s definition sits better with me. In my opinion, Cloud Computing includes any technology service you can access on-demand and only pay for what you use. Being delivered over the internet is not necessarily a determining factor.
However, in a true cloud computing environment, there is no commitment to any tangible piece of hardware, software or services. The cloud computing service is easy to get into and easy to get out of… The cloud computing concept in turn allows companies to focus on running their business versus focusing on what is required to keep their business running, so it can focus on its competitive advantages.
Much like AWS, Allari also provides support services in this "on-demand, pay as you go format". While we refer to our entire catalog of cloud services as, IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), they're actually provided across the range of specific technology services today's modern businesses need for success— Software Administration, Software Development, Business Intelligence and Business Analytics.
This approach to consumption-based IT support services provides companies with a lightweight, flexible option to supplement existing in-house resources, or as a cost effective way to shift entire functions over into the cost efficiency cloud solutions like ITaaS enable.