Given extensive and ever-faster connections over both air and fiber optics, the location of computing power relative to the user of said horsepower has become negotiable. Because of the need to do hard things in the service of a smartphone, the awareness of massive inefficiencies in the power consumption of fixed computers, and the cost and complexity of the systems that support a given server, offloading some of the infrastructure to a specialized provider that operates at a huge scale makes sense in ^ ways it did not in the era of the personal computer and local area network.
The proliferation of so-called cloud computing platforms has been rapid. Because there is so much material available that defines the phenomenon (see Figure 26.1), we'll move here to an examination of some of the unexpected consequences and complicated implications of moving some or all of a computing environment to offsite, third-party environments. We will find that the impact of the Internet, as a conduit for both communications and computing, extends far beyond the data center.
To get the problematic and inevitable definitional question out of the way, here is one from Information Week's John Foley: “Cloud computing is on-demand access to virtualized IT resources that are housed outside of your own data center, shared by others, simple to use, paid for via subscription, and accessed over the Web.”1
There are of course other contending definitions, but Foley's is mercifully brief. Even ...