What is the Cloud?

Besides being the platform that makes services like Netflix and Facebook possible, the cloud is – in simple terms – little more than a big group of computers.

The “little more” part that makes those computers into a “cloud” is specialized management software.

This software allows ten, a thousand or hundreds of thousands of computers to function more or less as if they were just one (much bigger) computer. If you want a computer with the power of 10 computers, the cloud can do that. If you want a computer with the power of 150,000 computers, the cloud can do that too.

The exciting part is that the cloud gets users out of the business of managing hardware that takes time to setup, rooms to house, power to run, power to cool and people to manage, and replaces them with a service-oriented setup.

Your accountant will be all googly-eyed when they talk about taking all those fixed assets (the computers, rooms, cooling etc) and converting them into variable expenses than can be purchased as they’re needed and disposed of when users are done with them.

Here’s how that works:

  • Before the cloud:If you need 10 of those computers today and 100 tomorrow and 10 the day after that, you still need 100 computers and the room, power, cooling and people to run them.
  • After the cloud:You pay for 10 computers on day 1, 100 on day 2 and 10 on day 3.

In other words, the cloud commoditizes computers and the work to manage them.
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