Following are just a few of the many definitions you will find for cloud computing in technology publications, forums, blogs, etc.
“Cloud computing is scaling infrastructure on-demand within minutes or seconds.”
“Cloud computing is the shift from a single-tenant software development model to a multi-tenant, multi-network model.”
“Cloud computing is a broad array of web-based services providing a wide range of functional capabilities on a pay-as-you go basis.”
“Cloud computing is transformation of the physical layer to software based virtualization.”
“Cloud computing allows people to access technology-enabled services over the Internet.”
“Cloud computing is everything as a service. Grid computing, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.”
One of my favorites is:
“There sure is a lot of confusion when it comes to talking about cloud computing. Yet, it does not need to be so complicated. There really are only three types of services that are cloud based: SaaS, PaaS, and cloud computing platforms.”
Reading all these varying definitions, it would appear that cloud computing is everything but the kitchen sink. But I think it’s important that we view cloud computing as what it really is – an idea or a concept on which technologies are built – just like the Internet, which means different things to different suitors depending on the context in which it is being defined.
Is cloud computing as revolutionary as the Internet? It’s hard to say because it’s still evolving, but in my opinion it holds lots of promise. Just as technologies, such as TCP/IP, BGP, OSPF, MPLS, etc., were built on the idea of the Internet, we will see new technologies emerging with the idea of cloud computing.
The Internet has evolved over the years, and everyone conceptually knows what it is. Yet I would never tell a CIO that he or she should move its business to the Internet.
In that same vein, I think we need to reorient the discussion of cloud computing with CIOs to avoid any more confusion. Talk about the technologies that make cloud computing possible. Talk about multi-tenancy, virtualization, dynamic provisioning, storage technologies, unified fabric, etc., and those are just the beginning.
Start a discussion with a CIO with something like, “Are you ready for IT transformation based on new technologies?” That will get the conversation moving in the right direction, with no confusing or constrictive preconceptions.