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January 10, 2013

Why is the cloud so confusing?

Last week I wrote a guest blog post for Washington Technology Industry Association explaining What Applications Benefit the Most from the Cloud. While working on the post I looked around the Web and once again was reminded that, like with other technology the cloud is becoming more and more confusing. Don't understand me wrong! I do love the technology but there is always one thing that always baffles me - we (the techies) always invent new fancy terms and try to use those to sell the technology (it even happens quite often that we just call an old technology with new name and sell it again). Well, we are pretty good at confusing our customers with our fancy TLAs (TLA stands for three-letter-acronyms if you are wondering :)) hence I decided to start a series of posts explaining the cloud with much simpler terms. 

One of my favorite questions when I interview people is: "Can you explain this to my grandma?" In the "Cloud Computing Explained" series I will try to give practical definitions and examples of every area in the cloud I can think of. It is well know that the best way for people to learn is to relate the new discoveries to something that they already know, hence I will try to explain the cloud with practical examples that you have already seen in the past (going so far back that you grandma may be able to relate:)).

Here is my initial list of things I would like to cover:

  • What is the cloud? Well, lot of people have different understanding about what cloud is - is it Google Docs, or is it AWS, and what part of AWS exactly?
  • Different clouds - IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, public, private and so on.
  • Why would someone want to use the cloud? Because it is cool and new? Well, maybe… :)
  • How much will you pay for the cloud? I hear it is cheaper than to buy but… Don't be surprised by the bill! 
  • Should I throw all my applications in the cloud? Let's try with one first
  • Will the cloud vendors steal my IP? Am I locked with them forever? Well, depends…
  • And the nitty-gritty's of the cloud? I mean things like APIs, Services, SDKs and all the TLAs.

Of course this is a very high level list and I will be happy to hear feedback on the posts as well as what other topics you will find interesting to cover.


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Patrick McClory

I think that you're getting close to an outline on how to answer your first question with your second one--the definition of 'cloud' certainly depends on the type of service being offered, be it infrastructure, platform or software as a service. 'Cloud' certainly has a number of different applications and while it certainly isn't all things to all people, generally moving to 'the cloud' is the process of divesting yourself of an on-premise installation or a local instance of some sort of IT building block (be it an application in terms of SaaS or a platform offering such as Dropbox offering a storage solution). The three 'as a service' offerings (Infrastructure, Platform and Software) generally are seen as offering different levels of abstraction and each one offers the ability to manage as much or as little of the solution as you'd like.

Looking forward to the series!

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