Cloud computing or computing in the cloud is now one of the latest happening trends in the business world and the “next big thing” after Web 2.0. According to a 2008 paper published by IEEE Internet Computing “Cloud Computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the Internet and cached temporarily on clients that include desktops, entertainment centers, table computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, sensors, monitors, etc.” In other words, we can say that this is about increasing an organization’s or user’s capability by using different applications from some external servers without investing much on its own infrastructure and maintenance of local servers. Rather the organization/user pays for raw computing power. Here the word “cloud” is used as a metaphor for internet.
The basic architecture of this cloud computing is a massive network of interconnected servers where the web applications reside. The user accessing these applications need not be aware of the physical location of the application’s computer. This not only reduces the cost of installing licensed software at the end user’s computer but also saves the cost associated with deploying, maintaining and upgrading of different business technologies.
This week two giants spoke to the technology wave known as cloud computing. Larry Ellison called it a new label on what everyone is doing already. He acknowledged he was going along with it to keep his marketing and sales guys happy, but basically he called bullshit on it.
Steve Ballmer talked at a deep level about intelligent caching between the cloud and the client. Over an hour of snappy questions by Ann Winblad and Obamaesque nuance from the Microsoft leader let some significant cat out of the bag. No longer software plus services, the net of Ballmer’s signals was cloud + client. If you believe as Jason Calacanis does that we’re on the brink of a startup depression, the technology industry should be very very afraid.
Bill Gates has been thinking so far out ahead for so long that we’ve grown complacent in understanding how long it takes for Microsoft to reposition itself. Most observers still think the company is caught in an intractable wedge between the revenue of the Office group and the release cycles of Windows. The forthcoming Windows 7 announcements at the Professional Developers Conference just before Election Day in Los Angeles can already be understood as a point evolution, more like a service pack from the old Windows NT days when Redmond was trying to absorb consumer Windows into the IT server stream.
The lurching, heaving behemoth of the Web will become a self-feeding entity someday, symmetrical and aligned with itself, ubiquitous and pervasive, not constrained by the browser or even a PC. That’s the vision for the world wide Web after Web 2.0 – a concept where apps are islands, users interact only through portals that let them interact, programming languages don’t understand each other, and we’re limited by what the OS, the network, the browser, and the computer will permit.
Recently, in my normal job as a journalist, I’ve been finding that every new story pitch, interview request, product inquiry or – well, pretty much every e-mail I’ve sent has led to the response that: the cloud can solve that problem. Need better security on your laptop? Use the cloud. Need better scalability in your data center? Use the cloud. Have an itch that just won’t subsist? Use the cloud.
Microsoft announced Tuesday it is easing licensing restrictions for server applications. Companies will no longer be required to pay additional fees to move software within a server farm, the company said. The move is an attempt to remove barriers in order for its enterprise customers to develop more dynamic data centers and enterprise IT systems using virtualization software, according to the software maker.
In its latest report on information technology spending, Gartner projects a massive switch by companies to cloud computing.