So What's so Great (or Even New) About Cloud Computing? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
1/20/2009
10:46 AM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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So What's so Great (or Even New) About Cloud Computing?

Computing is a movie you may have seen years ago called "time sharing," which gave us the ability to share computing resources among many different users. In those days, many companies actually shared a single computer sitting in some data center... It's how I started my career, and most people in their 40s or older remember those days well. So, what's new or better this time around?

This seems to be the question coming from those who are looking at cloud computing and the value it can bring to the enterprise. Those who are deep into cloud computing already - typically vendors and consultants - are actually having trouble answering that question, and for good reason.

Truth be told, cloud computing is a movie you may have seen years ago called "time sharing," which gave us the ability to share computing resources among many different users. In those days, many companies actually shared a single computer sitting in some data center. Moreover, that computer was able to allocate and manage resources for each user and each application, and the user could request more computing time, or less, adjusting their use of the time-sharing service. It's how I started my career, and most people in their 40s or older remember those days well.So, what's new with cloud computing?

First is the ability to use components from different cloud resources and mix and match the solutions you're seeking. You're able to use storage-as-a-service from one provider, database-as-a-service from another, and even a complete application development-and-deployment platform from a third. This ability to leverage just the resources you need, as well as just the right amount, is a clear value of modern cloud computing.

Second is the commoditization of bandwidth, which lets enterprises use cloud computing resources as if they are local. You're able to use storage and runtime resources as if they exist within your data center, something that was difficult just a few years ago.

Finally, there's the availability of very cool cloud computing providers. While the architecture and the model of cloud computing is nothing new, there are innovative players with compelling services that are new. With cloud computing growing by leaps and bounds, better cloud computing services are being built and released continuously.

So there are some clear differences, but those who have been around for a while see some very familiar patterns. As we move forward with cloud computing, the idea is to use cloud computing as another tool in the shed that has the potential to make your enterprise architecture more cost effective and efficient.

As with any new (old) technology, cloud computing is not a silver bullet that you can shoot at every conceivable IT problem and expect good results. There is nothing here we've not dealt with before, thus it should not be that scary and we should understand the value.Computing is a movie you may have seen years ago called "time sharing," which gave us the ability to share computing resources among many different users. In those days, many companies actually shared a single computer sitting in some data center... It's how I started my career, and most people in their 40s or older remember those days well. So, what's new or better this time around?

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