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What Is Cloud Computing?

by on May 4, 2009

Cloud_compCloud computing has been on the tip of everyone’s collective tongue for the past few months. The problem seems to be agreeing on what cloud computing actually is. Is the cloud the Internet? Can you have an internal cloud? Is it simply outsourcing IT functionality? One definition I saw, and that made sense to me, put it this way:

“Cloud computing is a computing paradigm in which tasks are assigned to
a combination of connections, software and services accessed over a
This network of servers and connections is collectively known
as “the cloud.”

With this definition, any networked environment that allows people to access software and services over a network is cloud computing. So in a sense, cloud computing is nothing new, but rather a paradigm that has existed in some form in the past. Today, with the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and highly networked environments, cloud computing seems to finally be ready for large scale applications.

There has also been talk that it will change data storage and data centers. And I believe it will, but not in the way many think.

From our perspective, as a company that helps protect data and ensure its availability for disaster recovery, compliancy and other issues, cloud computing just shifts responsibility of data center operations from an internal source to an external source. However, the need for information to be safeguarded and readily available will not—and legally, cannot—change.

McKinsey & Co. have put out a report that helps clarify and bring some context to the cloud computing debate. One of the sections that struck me talks about the need to define cloud computing. The report states getting a “fix” on cloud computing is important because:

  • Allows participants in cloud discussions to share a common understanding  of what is meant by clouds
  • A rigorous definition allows CIOs to be analytical in their decision making and to make more informed investment decisions
  • Conversely, clarity also allows technology and service providers to build meaningful product, marketing, and sales strategies that translate into real value for their customers
  • Allows an industry to begin moving forward with standards to promote interoperability amongst cloud products

Read the full report here.

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