Simple to Complex - Six Definitions of Cloud Computing

Mike Allen
March 23, 2012

"There are several definitions of cloud computing floating around on the internet and it seems as if everyone has had a say in what exactly they think is the definition, but who is right and who is wrong? From what I’ve found in my research, each definition I came across fell into one of three categories: simple, less complicated, and complicated. From the simple and comprehensible, to slightly more understandable yet still technical, and lastly, completely complex “geek level” explanations, here are six definitions of cloud computing:

Simple Definitions of Cloud Computing

When looking for word definitions or information of any kind, most of us turn to the internet as our first stop. Although the following definition from Wikipedia only really explains what cloud computing “is” and leaves out what it actually “does,” it is still a simple way to define the topic at hand. Therefore, let’s start off with the simple definition of cloud computing from Wikipedia, one of the top go-to sites for quick information:

“Cloud Computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the internet).”

Another simple definition of cloud computing was invented by Chris Poelker, author of Storage Area Networks for Dummies. His “short and sweet” definition is as follows:

“Cloud computing is simply a way to describe how organizations can take some or all of their existing IT infrastructure and operations and hand it over to someone else.”
Less Complicated Definitions of Cloud Computing

The following “technical” definition of cloud computing was once again developed by Chris Poelker. His definition is more easily understandable once you get a grasp of the simpler definitions:

“Cloud Computing is the realization of utility computing for the masses, where traditional IT services are now virtualized and provided via modular reference architectures that are created by the providers and vendors rather than to end users.”
Poelker also says that cloud computing takes on a financial shift from capital expenses to operational expenses, and goes on to state that for accountants, they no longer need to account for capital budgets, but can now just treat IT as a business expense through an operational expense account. Therefore he invented a “financial” definition for cloud computing, which states:

“Cloud computing is a paradigm shift from traditional IT, where applications and infrastructure are bought, built and managed by the end user with capital dollars, to a model where IT is brought in modular units as an operational expense.”
Complicated Definitions of Cloud Computing

The following definition of cloud computing comes from an authority on the subject, yet is very difficult for the lay person to break down and understand. According to The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cloud computing is:

“A model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”
The following definition comes from a man by the name of Reuven Cohen, who is described as an early innovator in the cloud computing space as the founder of Enomaly in Toronto, Canada. Cohen was asked to define cloud computing, and here is his lengthy and technical definition:

“For me the simplest explanation for cloud computing is describing it as, ‘internet centric software.’ This new cloud computing software model is a shift from the traditional single tenant approach to software development to that of a scalable, multi-tenant, multi-platform, multi-network, and global. This could be as simple as your web based email service or as complex as a globally distributed load balanced content delivery environment. I think drawing a distinction on whether its, PaaS, SaaS, HaaS is completely secondary; ultimately all these approaches are attempting to solve the same problems (scale). As software transitions from a traditional desktop deployment model to that of a network & data centric one, “the cloud” will be the key way in which you develop, deploy and manage applications in this new computing paradigm.”
Well, there you have it; six definitions of cloud computing that range from simple to complex. Hopefully if you have made it this far you are now more versed on what cloud computing actually “is” and “does” from the view point of an IT personnel."



    Mike Allen

    "There are several definitions of cloud computing floating around on the internet and it seems as if everyone has had a say in what exactly they think is the definition, but who is right and who is wrong? From what I’ve found in my research, each definition I came across ...