Cloud Computing: It's Not Just About Access From Anywhere
Cloud computing has definitely moved into the mainstream. You now see commercials from Microsoft, Cisco, IBM and others every evening on prime time Cable TV. CNBC has created a Cloud Computing Special Report for investors to learn more about it. Even government agencies are now moving to cloud-based solutions.
Unfortunately, one of the most touted reasons we see for using cloud computing – that it provides universal access to data and applications from the Internet – has nothing to do with what cloud computing actually is. This is simply what web-based applications have been doing since the 1990s. True cloud computing offers a whole lot more. In October 2009, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published an excellent definition of cloud computing that calls out five essential characteristics that separate clouds from simple remotely hosted, web-based computing models:
- On-demand self-service
- Broad network access
- Resource pooling
- Rapid elasticity
- Measured service
I know, some of these terms are mouthful – especially to those who do “live and breathe” technology. However, they remove so much of the work and complexity that has so frequently made management of computing so painful and costly:
On-demand Self-Service (Think “Now”). With on on-demand self-service, you do not need to ask your provider to execute an “IT project” to enable you to use your application (or update it) to support a new business development. You can do whatever you need, when you need it – without the cost and delay of overhead managing your vendor.
Broad Network Access (Think “Convenience”). This lets you work wherever you need, whenever you need – from your work or home computer, netbook, tablet, or smartphone. Traditionally, this was done through browser, to bypass the need to install local software. However, the rise of (cloud-based) App Stores now allows us to install richer applications to access our data – wherever we are, on-demand.
These first two characteristics are what most people think of when talking about cloud computing. However, it is the next three characteristics that make true clouds stand out:Continued on the next page