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Cloud Computing Definition

What does Cloud Computing mean?

cloud computing icon

Cloud Computing is a term that you will obviously have heard of. You will also have heard that it brings flexibility into IT, but that it also brings in some security issues and integration issues.

So what exactly is Cloud Computing? What are its benefits and costs and what concepts and models are current best practices?

Definition

What is cloud computing? Cloud Computing literally means having optional extra computing power available on short term notice via a computer network often via the internet.

Generally Cloud Computing refers to a variety of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet.

Cloud Computing is a synonym for distributed computing over a network, and means the ability to run a program or application on many connected computers at the same time.

Cloud Computing could be defined as a concept for organizations/businesses to provide for scalable / pay per use IT Services. It then is no longer an IT concept, but a business concept.

Usage

In Dragon1 the concept of Cloud Computing is, as IT Infrastructure concept, part of the generic conceptual reference meta model for Technical architecture / IT architecture.

Scalability. If an organization wants to have scalability, increase continuity, decrease costs, have control-ability of extensions of IT services and compose new IT services, more and more often Cloud Computing is a generic concept taken for that.

Private IT Services. There a several specialized Cloud Computing concepts such as the public and private cloud but also several concepts to publish the IT services via Cloud Computing, such as: SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.

Which type of cloud and which type of IT services best fits your issue or your solution is subject to be studied by IT architects.

Virtual Desktop. A very simple example of a Cloud Computing client concept is having only Virtual Desktops for your employees. Meaning that when you login as employee you are offered a realtime generated desktop environment. Your desktop environment (the set of applications, databases and information services/subscriptions) is no longer installed physically on your client computer hardware.

Common Misunderstandings and Issues of Cloud Computing

1. World Wide Standard. The biggest misunderstanding in Cloud Computing is that there are worldwide international standards on what is Cloud Computing and what it is not. Or that there are best practices everyone agrees upon. At the moment in different countries communities are trying to define a nationwide standard or economic area standard for Cloud Computing. But because a lot of these bodies are in a hurry, vendor driven or based on standards purely on vendor independent best practices, these self-proclaimed standards could very well lead to vendor lock ins. This causes that Cloud Computing will be an IT push instead of a business driven push.

2. Security. The 2nd biggest misunderstanding in Cloud Computing is that there are security issues making it too risky for some businesses. This results in not going on the path of Cloud Computing now. But actually you as owner of an organization will have those security issues to manage anyway. Such as to know where your data may or may not be stored physically because of policies and laws.

3. Cheaper. The third biggest misunderstanding is, that Cloud Computing is cheaper. But, in the end, that is a myth. Just like free Open Source Software is not any cheaper in the end, than proprietary software from vendors. It may be even the other way around. When talking about costs you have be honest with yourself and take also hidden costs and ignored-up-to-now costs into account.

4. Quality. Another cost in Cloud Computing is that you lose some control-ability of IT services and so some think you lose some quality. But a great benefit returned is higher quality of the IT services, because the focus of the IT services provider is on innovation and continuity of IT services as specialist.

5. Ease of Integration and Management. Introducing cloud computing, is also introducing complexity. If not all software applications are put in the cloud or even if there will be more than one cloud because various initiatives (a cloud jungle), the complexity of your IT-environment has grown more complex. Is does not have to bad or wrong to have complexity. It does need to be managed and some integration standards (to connect on premise/legacy apps with cloud apps) are badly needed. And there lies an big issue or challenge for cloud computing to become a successful practice.

6. It is an IT Concept. Cloud computing is NOT an IT concept. It is a business concept. Cloud computing is often about providing IT Services by one organization to another organization. The technical delivery of the IT-services is just a part of Cloud Computing.

Symbol

For Cloud Computing we use the symbol of an internet cloud with a server in it and the cloud linked to a network.

Cloud Computing Examples

Examples of Cloud Computing are:

Cloud Computing Elements and Building Blocks

  • Public Cloud
  • Private Cloud
  • Cloud Provider
  • IT Services
  • Cloud Sourcing
  • Elastic Scaling
  • Usage Based Accounting
  • Apps - Web based Applications
  • SaaS - Software as a Service
  • IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service
  • PaaS - Platform as a Service

Standards and Strategy in development

  • http://cloudcomputing.ieee.org/standards
  • http://cloud-standards.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
  • http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/european-cloud-computing-strategy
  • http://www.defense.gov/news/dodcloudcomputingstrategy.pdf
  • http://www.cloudconference.eu/media/filer_public/2013/11/05/ken_ducatel.pdf
  • http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2012:0529:FIN:EN:PDF
  • http://www.surf.nl/binaries/content/assets/surf/nl/kennisbank/2013/SURF_Regie_in_de_cloud_i-strategie.pdf (in Dutch)

Further reading

Are you interested in reading more about this?

Read a page about Cloud Computing Misunderstandings here.

If you have a suggestion for us to improve this page on Cloud Computing, please contact us via info@dragon1.com.

Related Terms

If you have comments or remarks about this term or definition, please mail to specs@dragon1.com.