What does cloud computing really mean?

Many of the customers I visit misunderstand what cloud computing really means. If you google the term, you’ll find lots of different explanations and some are, in my opinion, more accurate than others. Any person that works in the information technology business has his or her own definition, and I am not an exception.

My personal definition is that cloud computing is a new model of providing business and technology services that allows the user to access a standardized service catalog to fulfill business needs in a flexible and adaptive way in case of unforeseen demands or peak workloads, paying only for the consumption made.

But what does it really mean? Let’s try to understand each part of my definition.

New model: This means that in a cloud, you can use or consume computational resources as “services,” in a different way. This also implies that there will always be a provider and your role is to consume. All customers or consumers can have access to services in a community, sharing the infrastructure that the provider exposes to be used.

Services: This is key. In the cloud, computational resources can be consumed only as services. Every resource that is offered to users or consumers must be packed in a service. A service can be any simple combination of computational resources like storage, memory and processing power, or complex combinations like testing application environments that include multiple systems, middleware and applications. The last example is also known as a pattern.

Standarized service catalog: In the cloud, you are able to consume the services that your provider has decided to offer and no others. This is the power of standarization. Perhaps you never will get exactly the combination you are looking for, but you can have a very good alternative in a matter of minutes. Standardization also ensures that systems are correctly managed and maintained. If a problem arises in a provided system, the process of fixing it could be easily replicated in every cloned system.

Flexible and unforeseen demands: The cloud paradigm ensures that consumers have access to an unlimited availability of resources. This concept is extremely important if your business needs more computer power seasonally or to meet constantly changing demands. Acquiring and releasing services in a cloud environment is the heart of this new model.

Workloads: Every need for computing power is considered a workload. While some workloads are particularly suited for the cloud, others may not be. It is a matter of effort and value to decide which ones you will move or migrate to the cloud and which ones may never be in the cloud (stay tuned for another post about these considerations).

Paying and consumption: In the cloud, you pay for the services you consume and for the time you use them. Every service may have different measurement units.  The concept of pay-per-use is part of the cloud paradigm.

Cloud computing is changing the way you consume resources, and only charging for the time you use them. To request resources, you only need to access a service catalog and place your order. The provisioning of those services for you is done in a seamless, instantaneous way and you can make them grow or shrink as you need.

You can comment below or follow me on Twitter @JavyBarabas.

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