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A meeting today went well where I explained that cloud computing which one of the persons recognized was something else than a traditional RDBMS and I said that cloud computing is that everthing is software. It didn't seem like "Aha!" when I said it so I wonder what I should say. I thought the main specifics of cloud computing are integrated services, no traditional RDBMS and resources are allocated as software and payment model is pay per usage instead of pay per hardware. And/or should I stress the concept of PaaS i.e. that it is a platform?

Wikipedia says the distinction is between products and services but that we said about web services 15 years ago.

Thanks in advance for you answers

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I refer to one of my co-workers, who's online while he's traveling, as a "cloud service". –  jhocking Sep 14 '11 at 20:03
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3 Answers

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Although you can host your own cloud, for most businesses it means this:

You pay another company to "take care" of some or all your data.

Your data lives on their computers, where their employees take care of

  • your data (in the sense of keeping it alive, not in the sense of keeping it up to date),
  • privileged access to your data (at least some parts of "privileged access"),
  • the software that manages your data, and
  • the computers that run the software that manages your data.

Their employees take care of upgrades to the software and to the computers. Depending on the contract, their employees might take care of disaster recovery, too.

Now, if that all sounds too good to be true . . .

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Too good to be true yes. Someone write on SO "I love google app engine and its API." Are we too biased towards cloud services and GAE? I think I never will want to go back to Linux/Apache/MySQL/Java/PHP/Perl after switching to python / GAE. And that's categorical... –  909 Niklas Sep 15 '11 at 9:25
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The term "cloud" has a high emotional content and little well defined, specific informational content.

If you're trying to explain things, avoid the use of the term "cloud". You may look up and use the definition of terms like IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, depending on what you mean when you say "cloud".

If you're trying to sell things, you should definitely say "cloud" as often as possible.

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That's a very interesting answer. Pay-per-usage is a large difference for the economy with the cloud and for the programmera it's a huge difference outsourcing so much administration. I'm in favor of google app engine and I see other developers are too. I would also like to see how far other cloud projects than GAE have come. –  909 Niklas Sep 15 '11 at 9:21
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I always explain "the cloud" by analogy to the electrical grid.

With "the grid", you don't need to run a generator or power plant. You don't need to buy fuel directly. You simply pay someone to keep electricity going to you. When you need electricity, you flip a switch and take what you want. You don't have to think about where the electricity is being produced or how it is getting to you -- that's the electric company's problem. They bill you every month for what you use.

The downsides are much the same too. If the grid has a failure, you go dark. And there's not much you can do about it except complain.

To some extent, you can think about it as "storage as a service".

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A great answer that made me think of the Turing machine like the difference between having a fixed length of Turing stripe to having a "real" infinite Turing stripe for the Turing machine now that cloud providers offer infinite storage and powerfule API:s such as mapreduce to handle large and very large jobs to handle terrabytes or larger datasets. –  909 Niklas Sep 15 '11 at 9:24
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