What is “The Cloud”?

iStock_000000231918XSmall---cloud-questionmark-smallWhat is “The Cloud?”  In the last few years “The Cloud” buzz-word has become ubiquitous in tech circles, and applied to many things.  Vendors all seem to want a piece of the cloud, calling just about anything “Cloud enabled”, or “Something as a Service”.  So it would be understandable if you’d just shrugged it off as another over-hyped marketing keyword and decided to wait a few years before researching it (hoping that it might have vanished by then).

But it won’t vanish.  The Cloud is amazing.  It enables you to achieve your business goals faster by removing many of the traditional bottlenecks in IT execution.  The Cloud enables small and medium businesses to quickly and inexpensively accomplish things they couldn’t even have dreamed about previously, while it enables big enterprises to dramatically reduce costs and accelerate IT execution.  And yes, its the engine behind both mobile and big data.

So, what is “The Cloud”?

Series agenda

I’m very excited to explore this question in a series of blog posts. My goal is to keep each article reasonably short and easy to read, and not too technical.

Here’s my loose agenda for the series:

  • Cloud layers
    You say SaaS, I say PaaS, let’s call the whole thing off!  In the next blog post we’ll examine the different types of Cloud offerings, and see which ones are mostly hype and which provide concrete business benefits.
  • Public, Private, and Hybrid oh my!
    In the next blog post we’ll explore three different ways of providing The Cloud; this conversation will enable a more detailed examination of security and privacy
  • Security and Privacy in the cloud
    Both businesses and customers care about security and privacy, and in this post we’ll examine both as they relate to the different Cloud layers and cloud provisioning discussed in the first two posts.
  • A different design paradigm
    With all of this under out belt we can discuss designing your business solution in The Cloud.  We’ll need to examine different approaches to regulatory compliance, privacy, security, fault-tolerance and error handling, but we’ve got powerful tools and components at our disposal.
  • Big Data:  Hadoop
    The Cloud and Big Data go hand-in-hand, so I would be remiss not to discuss and explore Hadoop for crunching big-data.  (This blog post will be more technical than the others.)

With the basics covered I would then like to examine some vendor specific offerings. Each vendor’s solution is slightly different – especially at the PaaS level.  So I’m thinking a high-level blog-post quickly covering all 5 and then a more detailed blog-post each examining each one individually

Cloud Vendors

Here are the Cloud vendors I plan on exploring:

  • Amazon Web Services
  • Microsoft Windows Azure
  • Google Cloud
  • RackSpace / OpenStack
  • IBM Smart Cloud

I would also really enjoy researching and responding to your Cloud questions as we go, so please feel free to post your Cloud questions in the comments below or contact me directly.

I am really excited about sharing everything I’ve been researching and learning.  I hope you’ll join me for what I hope will be a very interesting discussion.

Robert

The next post, “Cloud Layers” is available.

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