How to Explain Cloud Computing to People Who Do Not Know What Cloud Is?

Bob West
May 22, 2018

It’s difficult to explain something that you cannot “physically” see or touch. People often associate cloud computing with a website, hosting provider, software, email or storage. It just works. However, many are confused as to how the cloud actually works and how it differs from physical hardware such as a desktop computer or server.

Here’s How I like Explain the Cloud…

I start by relating the cloud to something that people know and can visualize. I start off by describing a single-family home and a hotel. The single-family home represents a physical server while the hotel represents virtualization.

Single Family Home = Physical Server

A single-family home as something that you own, use and maintain. You are the only tenant meaning you do not share walls with any of your neighbors. (Multiple Customers Under Same Roof, Partitioned)

You are responsible for keeping it up and maintaining it. You can do it yourself (DIY), hire a handyman or tradesman to perform repairs on it as needed. It may take awhile for the repairs especially if it’s after hours. (Physical Server, Maintenance, Monitoring, You Manage)

You may have a break-in at your house and a burglar could walk away with your valuables. Hopefully you have a security system in place to guard against burglary and theft. (Security, Firewall, Data Breach, Intrusion Threats)

Someday you may outgrow your house and need more space. You can build an addition on to your existing home. You could also get a new house that is better suited to meet your needs. You may even decide to get a condo or town home. (Obsolete, Upgrade, Hybrid = Own and Lease)

Hotel = Virtual Server

A hotel provides an on-demand environment where you can choose your city, room type and configuration, and duration. You can also change your reservations and room type at anytime. You can book your hotel online and pay with a credit card. Hotels offer different ratings and amenities at different price points. (Pay Per Use, Configuration, Flexibility, Click to Purchase, Choose Location, SLAs, Uptime)

Hotels are multi tenancy meaning that they have numerous customers all under one roof. Most of the time you are not impacted by a noisy neighbor. You know that there are other customers but you hardly see or hear them. They may have a studio, suite or penthouse suite. It really doesn't impact you. (Noisy Neighbor, Resource Allocation)

When you check-in to a hotel, you have the option to upgrade your reservation. As a customer, you have access to all of the amenities and common areas of the hotel such as pool, hot tub, workout facility and parking. (Ability to Upgrade, Scale Your Environment, Add-On Services)

All maintenance is covered during your stay at the hotel. This includes room service, house keeping, repairs or maintenance related issues. As a customer, you really don't have to worry about anything. It's all taken care of for you. (Fully Maintained By Cloud Provider)

Last but not least, the hotel maybe fenced in, have a security gate and security guards to protect you and the property from theft and vandalism. It may still be possible for a burglary to occur in the hotel but it is pretty well protected. (Managed Security, Firewall, Monitoring)

Conclusion

As you can see, there are positives and negatives to both physical and virtual environments.

The single-family home requires a lot more attention, but it offers you your own space that you control. You are stuck with the single-family home until you are ready to move on or have outgrown it. It will probably take a moving company to help you move to your new home - another single-family home, apartment, condo or townhome. (Data Center Relocation or Migration Services)

On the other hand, the hotel is more flexible and requires virtually no maintenance. You can book it online and pay online. It just works. There's also a ton of flexibility in moving around, upgrading rooms and staying in different locations.

There are drawbacks to the hotel. It's more expensive on a pay per use basis than owning a home and having a mortgage. You're not sure if you will like the hotel or not until you get there. You could get stuck with horrible or no customer service at all.

Hope you enjoyed this short article on how I explain what the cloud is to people that have no clue about information technology, servers, or hosting.

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Bob West

Bob West a technology savvy digital marketing executive and entrepreneur specializing in the latest data center and cloud technologies for business. His background includes the initial development of Datacenters.com in 2011. He’s a cryptocurrency mining expert, data center, and cloud enthusiast.