The Cloud and Cloud Computing consensus definition?

“Cloud Computing is the realisation of Internet (‘Cloud’) based development and use of computer technology (‘Computing’) delivered by an ecosystem of providers.”

It’s amazing that such a simple concept has caused so much confusion, but having spent the last few days reviewing the recent discussions it seems many are falling into the trap of trying to align Cloud Computing with (or contrast it against) existing terminology like SaaS and Utility Computing. It is in fact far more suitable as an umbrella term encompassing all of these related components.

— Sam Johnston


Let’s break down my definition (which I came to by collating the assertions that were in line with my view and then boiling the result down to the basic common elements):

“Cloud Computing…

  • …is the realisation of
    While many of the requisite components have been available in various forms for some time (eg Software as a Service, Utility Computing, Web Services, Web 2.0, etc.) it is only now they are reaching critical mass that the Cloud Computing concept is working its way into the mainstream. As more of a collection of trends (a ‘metatrend‘) we still have some way to go yet, but Cloud Computing solutions are a reality today and will rapidly mature and expand into virtually every corner of our lives and enterprises.
  • …Internet (‘Cloud’) based…
    Although some have [ab]used the ‘Cloud Computing’ term in reference to infrastructure (particularly grid computing, like Amazon’s pioneering Elastic Compute Cloud), much of its value is derived from the universal connectivity of the Internet; between businesses (B2B e.g. Web Services like Amazon Web Services), businesses and consumers (B2C e.g. Web 2.0 like Google Apps) and between consumers themselves (C2C e.g. peer to peer like BitTorrent). Many of us are now connected to ‘The Cloud’ where we work (office), rest (home) and play (mobile) and there are solutions (eg Gears) for when we are not.
  • …development and use of computer technology’…
    an accepted, all-encompassing definition of computing – there are very few areas which will not be affected in some way by Cloud Computing so I’ve gone for the broadest possible definition.
  • …delivered by an ecosystem of providers.
    While it is possible to enjoy some of the advantages using a single provider (eg Google), it is hard to imagine a functionally complete solution which does not draw on multiple providers (in much the same way as we install task-specific applications onto our legacy computers). Your electricity is almost certainly generated by wholesale providers who pump it into the grid and similarly Cloud Computing will typically be delivered by layered (eg Smugmug on Amazon S3) and/or interconnected (eg Facebook<->Twitter) systems.

Full article here.

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