What is cloud computing and why should you care? Part 1

Cloud computing is certainly a hot topic these days, but it means different things to different people. Sometimes people are talking about the same thing, but from different points of view.  Adding to the confusion, there are many terms associated with cloud, covering so many different areas. So how do you explain cloud to a non-IT professional?

We have published several posts on cloud computing basics and its potential to improve human lives on ThoughtsOnCloud, a cloud computing blog with posts contributed by IBM Redbooks Thought leaders. The following post written by Erik Anderson is one of my favorites. It makes a great introduction to cloud computing, presenting the topic by a rental car analogy: How to explain cloud to your spouse.

What is also interesting about this post is the comments it has received:

  • For example @DigitalDruid0 extends this analogy with the “”Fit for Purpose” concept. “You will most likely rent a different vehicle (4×4 SUV) to go skiing than you might if you wanted to cruise to Key West (convertible)…. So, the work you need to get done and how you need to get it done drive the selection of a particular HW platform and SW stack in the cloud.”
  • Simon points out the Disaster Recovery capabilities in the cloud.  In his comment he says “If your rental car breaks down or you have an accident then the rental company will replace the car – or provide roadside assistance – DR in the cloud works much the same way – if your production machine fails then you have a backup ready to take over and get your business up & running”
  • Another comment from jwc likens the private cloud to a car that his family rents for vacation. In that case, only his family gets to use its services. A public cloud would be the bus that they use to get from the airport to the rental company!

As Vicki Flahery says in her comment “Analogies work wonders!” and seeing the number of comments Erik has received, she is right.

So is cloud the only way? Jim Barnes does not think so in his post. He gives a specific example about a digital rights management software used in his spouse’s company. In this particular case, the cloud offering was not the right solution, because it could not provide sufficient flexibility in on-demand processing and as-needed capacity. Jim says he is a firm believer of cloud, but advises cloud providers help the customers understand the why, not just throw around words.

Jim is correct.  Cloud is not the only way, but it does have a lot of potential. In my next post I am going to give some examples of how cloud affects our daily lives.

Please use the comment areas on the ThoughtsOnCloud site if you have comments or questions on any of the topics covered on this blog.

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