According to Wikipedia cloud computing is, “The use and access of multiple server-based computational resources via a digital network (WAN, Internet connection using the World Wide Web, etc,).”
Alright, but what in the world does that mean?
If you compare the evolution of public utilities to cloud computing, you will not only understand what cloud computing is, but also learn why it’s gaining popularity. Let’s dig into the evolution of electricity.
During the Industrial Age factories that were manufacturing products also had to generate their own power to run their machines. Whether it was railroad spikes or textiles, the competitive advantages from using machines, with less people and in less time, were huge. In these years the power production was as important as the skill of the employees and the quality of their products.
Factories were now in TWO businesses: producing their goods and producing power. Thomas Edison then developed a commercial-grade replacement for gas lighting by introducing centrally generated and distributed power (electricity). The rest is history.
Factories quickly moved to this new concept of centralized power delivered as a utility. Manufacturers no longer needed to be in the power generation business. In a very short period of time it then became a competitive necessity for factories to move to the lower cost option of the public utilities. Thousands of steam engines and electric generators were made obsolete, rusting next to the factories they used to power.
We are in a similar transformation today, following a very similar path. Instead of low-cost and plentiful power, innovations in technology and Internet connectivity are pushing down the costs of computing power. In the age of cloud computing businesses can pay for the computer resources they need, like a utility, without incurring the huge costs of installing, hosting and supporting it all.
For the pessimist, you are most likely experiencing the benefits of cloud computing and don’t even know it. If you are using any of the services below, you are using a cloud computing app, some call them software as a service or SaaS;
- NetSuite, Salesforce
- Gmail, Hotmail, or any free email service
- Google (AdWord, Analytics, search)
- Constant Contact
The more you think about it, just about every application you use can be or already is “in the cloud”, letting you access it for a monthly fee via a browser. No software to buy, install and accessing it through a web browser.
Sounds great, right! Well like all things there is no perfect solution, we will next dig into the pros and cons of moving to the cloud.