Over the last few years I have heard many definitions of cloud computing. Some increase an understanding of the technologies employed and others come across as naysayers, identifying cloud computing as an anachronism unfit for today’s needs. I find the latter difficult to support although, I have wanted to compare cloud computing with client server. Perhaps, it is best to review that now.
Client server was the rage in the 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, all major applications were built using client server architectures. This was important as most of the computing power available resided on mainframe computers or large servers. The computing power and databases available to the individual using a personal computer was insufficient to support sophisticated applications. As such users accepted compromises of speed and usability in order to have functionality. But two things happened that changed the direction of computing, Moore’s law and the Internet.
As personal computers became more powerful, faster and simpler to use with improved GUIs and systems interfaces, the slower response of client server applications grew unacceptable. Very quickly, more of the application functionality was transferred from remote servers to the PC. Just as this transition was gaining hold, along came the Internet.
The Internet was somewhat of an equalizer, in that now access to disparate computers, databases, applications around the world was transparent with the development HTTP and HTML. Users quickly saw the value of supplementing their local computing and information resources with those that could be accessed anywhere the Internet connected. This ultimately led to the development and use of the phrase “cloud computing” and “as a Service” solutions.
Most users accessing the Internet do not refer to their email services, social media activity, photo management, music management as “cloud computing” but each is quite related to what is being built and offered to businesses today. Software as a Service defines much of what is available from Apple (iTunes, iCloud), Google (gmail, Google voice, Google Cloud Platform). Other offerings such as those provided by VMware, BroadSoft, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle or NetSuite have a growing customer base and prospect interest as cloud computing gains in acceptance, dare I say, again.
More on the acceptance of cloud computing Thursday.