I just completed the short, highly useful Rackspace Cloud U, which gives an excellent introduction to the cloud, how it operates, and why that’s where computing is moving to.
Cloud computing allows users to concentrate on building apps and value without having to deal with underlying hardware and software. Even better, it’s pay as you go. You are only billed for what you use with no minimum fees. Plus, the cloud is instantly scalable. If there is a traffic spike, the cloud automatically scales to meet the load. Increasingly, many big websites host as least part of their content in the cloud, as does this blog via a Content Distribution Network on Amazon Web Services.
Rackspace has an open source cloud called Open Stack, which was developed in partnership with NASA. Amazon Web Services offer an enormous number of cloud services and platforms. Microsoft’s Azure has been signing up very large customers recently. There are many other cloud vendors too, like Salesforce, who were pioneers in the cloud.
From one of the Rackspace lessons
One of the best ways to explain what the Cloud is, and by extension to determine whether a product truly constitutes a Cloud offering, is by using an acronym developed by Dave Nielsen, one of the founders of the CloudCamp series of conferences. This definition sees Cloud Computing described as OSSM (pronounced “awesome”). This simple concept stands for the following;
- On-demand: the infrastructure or hardware is already setup and ready to be deployed
- Self-service: the customer chooses what they want, when they want it
- Scalable: customers can choose how much they want and ramp up if neccessary
- Measureable: there’s metering/reporting so you know you are getting what you pay for
The cloud is also democratizing as it allows anyone to use highly sophisticated hardware and software platforms without having to worry about maintaining them and at extremely reasonably prices too.