In my last post, I looked at how cloud computing is defined in the market. Now, I will break it down into two simple concepts.
Definition one: the financial explanation
Cloud computing is a paradigm shift from traditional IT, where applications and infrastructure are bought, built and managed by the end user with capital dollars, to a model where IT is bought in modular units as an operational expense.
What that means to the bean counters is that they don't need to worry about capital budgets anymore. They can simply outsource all or part of what IT does to a third-party cloud provider and treat it as a business expense using an operational budget.
For the IT professional, this definition of cloud computing means that if your chief information officer (CIO) is looking to move to a public cloud model, your job may soon be outsourced to a third party, so start brushing up on your virtualization skills. Don't start updating your resume yet though, as most organizations are not about to just drop everything and move whole hog to a public cloud model.
Definition two: the technical explanation
Cloud computing is the realization of utility computing for the masses, where traditional IT services are now virtualized and provided via modular reference architectures that are created by the providers and vendors rather than the end users.
Many organizations are getting their cloud feet wet by first creating what I refer to as the "mist," which may be simply moving from Exchange to Gmail, or virtualizing all the open systems servers.
Virtualization is the key to cloud computing, and the resulting unified networks, servers and storage can be packaged into repeatable building blocks, which are used to build out the private or public cloud infrastructure. (Another term I use for this is the, "plumbing for the 21st century data center.") Once everything is virtualized (applications, servers and storage), it no longer matters where the applications run; it just matters where the data is.
Therefore, this leads us to the good part of the defining cloud computing. It's opening up a whole new world in which hardware and software move to their correct places behind the data. Data will be king, and there will be many new jobs where new skills are required to manage, share and secure access to data. Smart IT folks will become proficient in database administration and data management, policy-based management, security, cryptology, global file systems and namespaces, and a host of new and yet-to-be-determined job descriptions for making sure data is accessible, reliable, secure and always available.
Christopher Poelker is the author of Storage Area Networks for Dummies, the vice president of enterprise solutions at FalconStor Software, and former deputy commissioner of the TechAmerica Foundation Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD²).