August 22, 2013 | Written by: Erik Anderson
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For those of you that have been following this site for several months, you may have come across my previous blog post: How to explain cloud to your spouse. When I wrote it, I thought it was just a something silly, and had no idea it would resonate with as many people as it did. I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t already, as this post builds upon the four ways I explained how rental cars could be used to explain cloud computing.
Based on the feedback I received, I wanted to share four more ways to extend the rental car and cloud computing analogy to describe about some additional aspects of cloud. Special thanks go to @DigitalDruid0, Simon, DonM, and Helene Rude for sparking some of the extensions.
1. You can rent a different type of car for different situations.
When you go to the beach, you rent a convertible. When you go skiing, you rent something with all-wheel drive and a ski rack. When you are driving a long distance, you select something that gets good gas mileage. Each one of these vehicles would likely have a different cost associated to them. Similarly, in cloud computing, you can select different cloud services to fit your various needs. You could select a cloud service with a lot of resources behind it for a very processing intensive task, or you could select a cheaper cloud service if you needed fewer resources. In cloud terminology, this is sometimes referred to as being “Fit for Purpose.”
2. You aren’t responsible for maintaining a rental car.
Oil changes, tire rotations and changing the spark plugs are all things that you don’t have to worry about when you are renting a car. The rental car company handles all of these maintenance issues so you don’t have to. Realistically, this is built into the price of renting the car, but for the renter it is worth it to have that piece of mind. Just as rental car providers maintain their fleet, cloud providers maintain the hardware and software running the cloud platform, so that the cloud consumers don’t need to worry about it.
3. If your rental car breaks down or you have an accident, the rental car company will bring you a new car.
They would also take care of driving or towing the original car away. Something similar happens in a cloud environment. If something happens to your cloud instance, the cloud provider can very quickly and easily create a new instance for you. This ability to quickly stand up new services after a problem is referred to as disaster recovery.
4. If you are traveling with a big group you can rent multiple cars.
Sometimes my wife and I go on vacation with a group of friends. Between all the people and luggage, there isn’t enough room in one car (even a big one). Fortunately, rental car companies have many cars available to rent, and when we have this increased demand, we can rent multiple cars. In cloud computing, this is referred to as elasticity. When we need additional resources (or cars) we can rent them. When we no longer need the additional space, we can return the car to the provider and no longer need to pay for it.
My first attempt to explain cloud to my wife went reasonably well; she actually made it to the end of the analogy before losing interest. I can only hope this one goes as well. If you try this explanation on your spouse (or friend, brother, child, dog), I’d love to hear about it. Let me know @TalkToErik.