17. The Cloud and Distributed Computing

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn’t even know existed can render your own computer unusable.

—Leslie Lamport

Cloud computing is about the on-demand availability of resources. This term is used to refer to a wide range of computing capabilities. For example, you might say, “All my photos are backed up to the cloud.” But what does that mean? It means:

• My photos are stored on someone else’s computers. They worry about the capital investment and maintenance and upkeep and backups.

• My photos are accessible by me over the Internet.

• I pay only for the space that I use, or that I requisition.

• The storage service is elastic, meaning that it can grow or shrink as my needs ...

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