Chapter 3. What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is simply a new incarnation of a long-established business model: the public utility.

The vast majority of households and businesses no longer invest in generating power on their own. It’s faster, better, and cheaper to allow a public utility to generate it on behalf of large groups of consumers. Public utilities benefit from being able to specialize on a very limited charter while benefitting from economies of scale. Consumers have no knowledge of how to generate power, nor should they. Yet for a nominal price, any business or individual can tap into the grid (on demand), pull as much or as little as required (elastic), and only pay for the amount that’s actually used (metered).

Power is very similar to cloud computing, both in the business model used by the vendors and the benefits it provides to individual consumers.

Generally Accepted Definition

The term cloud has come to encompass everything, to the point where it means nothing. Cloud has been so broadly redefined by marketers that any service delivered over the Internet is now considered cloud. Services as mundane as online photo sharing or web-based email are now counted as cloud computing, depending on who you talk to.

Cloud computing is still maturing, both as a concept and in the technology that underlies it. But for the purposes of this book, cloud computing is best described by three adjectives:

Elastic
To be considered cloud, you must be able to increase or decrease a ...

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