The world of Net Neutrality has been quiet this week. Given that, I thought I would focus on a buzzword and help people understand it.
Today I will talk about “The Cloud”. I will say that now this is a rather meaningless term. Like many things, when a term becomes popular everybody wants to participate in it. That means marketing folks stretch the boundaries of the term until it covers things that were well outside the original scope.
In this case, The Cloud was originally about services connected over the Public Internet. In particular, there was the notion of the use of Virtual Computing to deliver the service. Just to back up, there was a set of companies that were doing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Those companies created services that were equivalent to software that ran on desktops. An example in the business world would be Quickbooks Online (SaaS) as a replacement for Quickbooks. In the consumer world, you could have GMail instead of Exchange as a mail server.
When this first started, companies would put Computers together to run these services and they generally acted like Websites to the users. For all kinds of reasons, companies began to use “Virtual Computers” to implement these types of products. One of the big advantages was scalability. If a SaaS service became popular, you needed to manage the number of computers that you could have providing the service. If you had to buy and deploy new computers all the time, this cost a lot of time and money. So the ability to have “Virtual Machines” which run on larger computers and act like many computers. It allows people to change the number of computers working to deliver a service via a software mechanism.
People that implemented Cloud Services were doing SaaS using Virtual Machine technology. Amazon became very good at this and then began to offer its capability to others using Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS and similar services allow people to build entire IT infrastructures and own no computers.
The problem was that this became a popular term among technologists. Everybody wanted to participate in The Cloud. So services that were SaaS became now known as Cloud Services. People wanted Private Clouds. This means Virtual Environments that were only used internal to a company. Then we had Hybrid Clouds which were a mix of environments between Private Computing and Networks and Public Ones.
So, we lost the meaning. And that is okay. Now we think of Services and less about how they are made. Which makes sense for users. The Cloud started as a term for developers and has morphed. So, I hope this helps to understand where it came from.
Now, The Cloud is applied broadly to services and architectures that are delivered via or connected to Networks. In general, they are web browser based but can have an application front end.
Have a great weekend!
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