What is the cloud to you?

There has been so much news recently on Cloud Computing, so much so that I have been thinking about it for a few weeks and wanted to get these thoughts down on paper, or bytes, or how ever you say write a blog post.

You see I can’t see any good reason why Cloud Computing is not the next evolutionary step in computing.  We all started disconnected keeping all our information on tapes or disk which let itself to sharing and lending.  We then started getting simple “networking” structures using serial and parallel cables.  Laplink anyone.

I remember may days playing DOOM with a mate from across the road via a serial cable.  It was actually faster to run an ARJ file across multiple floppy disks to transfer the game from one computer to the next than actually transfer it via the serial cable.

But I digress, looking back to the origins of my fixations with computers will have to wait for another time.  Tonight I’m here to look to the future.  But to see where we are going we really need to understand where we came from.

So from a 10Mb game that was faster to copy via floppy disks than the “live” connection that I had available at the time, we now have Terabytes of disk storage, and network transmission rates measured in 1000′s of bits per second.

And you know, all this advancement is in the last 15 years….

Now we can get to the real question of tonight’s post… “What is the cloud to you?”

I’m grappling with this issue, as “Cloud Computing” is sort of a vague term. What does it really mean?

It could mean developing an application and hosting it “in the cloud”. In this case we have done away with our own need to find and source hardware, somewhere to put it, network access, power backup, link redundancy, DDOS protection, and the list goes on.

But for others, cloud computing is Google, GMail, Flickr, even this blog post your reading now.  It’s more than just “hardware replacement”, but a whole attitude to hosting and inter-operating the application in a remote location.

So I guess “What the cloud is to me” is a mixture of both.  Lets look at what I use that is not installed on my local machine.

  1. GMail
  2. Google Reader
  3. Flickr
  4. This Blog
  5. Lachie’s Blog
  6. Google Calendar
  7. Twitter
  8. Facebook
  9. Crickscore
  10. Jungle Disk backups to Amazon’s S3
  11. And probably much more

Basically my life is in the cloud, and apart from the blogs and crickscore, the entire infrastructure is somewhere else, on god knows what hardware running what ever it needs to work, with me totally oblivious to its configuration.

And I like it that way.

You see, I can’t see how we are going to move computing forward without the Cloud.  I know I’m not alone in this, Google is cloud, Microsoft is making a big play, and the rest of the big boys have at least a toe, if not an entire leg up in the cloud.

So what does this all mean..  I see that computing is going to fracture, and we are finally going to get specialists like other professions have.  I mean in what other profession do you have a single person with such a wide range of skills (in their domain) and are still expected to be the expert in all of them.. It just doesn’t work.

Cloud computing is the first step in saying to companies and developers that you don’t need to be experts in all fields.  You can rely on others to provide you services that will work, and will do their job, and most importantly you DON’T have to know what they are doing, or how they are doing it.

You see, I see “Cloud Computing” as the next big evolution in building the framework required to enable the next generation of computing.  We can remove ourselves from being experts in all fields, and just do what other professions have, and find a specialty.

Centralising information into the Cloud will give companies the economy’s of scale to be able to build bigger, better and smarter systems, that others can use, to begin the cycle all again.

Centralising is the key…  You don’t run a power plant in your back yard to power your house, nor farm your entire food supply any more, so why should you be required to manage your entire computing infrastructure.