As most of us who are actively involved or interested in the Internet have seen, the fancy buzzword "cloud" is used more and more frequently and in a wider and wider context. There are miles of written text about different clouds and definitions on what the cloud is, and the truth to be told; there is no really good definition of what a cloud is, but there are more or less accepted definitions.
One of the most accepted ones and the one I prefer is: Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared servers provide resources, software, and data to computers and other devices on demand, as with the electricity grid. To this wide definition I would like to add; "A cloud provides the end user with a graphic self-service interface". To me the whole idea with a cloud that is available to any customer, is that the customer itself can provision new or more resources. In a private cloud, such as an internal cloud shared by different departments within a company, the interface part isn’t as important.
What does this mean then? Simply: The customer has access to an interface where it can add/edit/delete it’s services and don’t need any info or details about the services actual location or infrastructure, the public facing interfaces such as SSH, MAPI or HTTP is all the customer need to know about, the rest is up to the vendor to manage and care about.
IRL this means, if I buy a Virtual Private Server- service from City Network, all I need to know is the IP-adress to VNC and SSH. I don´t need to know anything about the underlying platform, what´s important for me is my server and it’s virtual components.
For now, we’ll live by the fact that we can trust our service vendor, I’ll cover the dangers and traps later on. In an ideal world my virtual machine would then be able to have 100% uptime, since the virtual components don’t get worn out. This is possible since the service vendor have built their cloud platform with failover and load balancing, so if a server in the cluster that powers the cloud dies, the effects on the service delivery shouldn’t be noticeable to the end customer.
According to Gartner in June 2010 (link) the global market on Cloud services would surpass $68 Billion during 2010, most likely thise number will grow during 2011 and again according to Gartner – Cloud Computing is one of ten strategic technologies during 2011. (Link)
My guess? The cloud Is here to stay, and you’d better adopt to it.