Cloud Computing… a cloudy concept

Hi… here I’m again 🙂 This time, I want to post a note related to a very popular term since last year. Yes, “Cloud Computing“, as you already know it, everyone is talking about it. This time, I had no problem looking for sources, even more, I found too many links. The real problem was to select the best information, and that’s the point which worries me the most, I expend hours and hours reading, trying to learn about the topics I want to understand, but as try to cover a wider subject, there are more and more links to follow… becoming an endless task.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to learn and to read, but on the other hand, I don’t like to feel like I’m losing the focus of my research. Never mind.

Ok, let’s start defining the term from Wikipedia (it became my standard now):

Cloud Computing: it refers to the use of Internet (“cloud”) based computer technology for a variety of services. It is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources are provided as a service over the Internet.

After I read those lines, I got very confused, I mean: Cloud Computing defines what the Internet has been from the beginning, nothing new (or I miss something?). At this point, I ask: Is this expression just a market concept created by companies to sell the next version of what was named as “Web 2.0“?
I have this feeling, because I found a lot of terms related to the first one: Cloud Applications, Cloud Clients, Cloud Infrastructure, Cloud platforms, Cloud Services, Cloud Storage, Cloud Computing Providers, Cloud Computing Users, Cloud Computing Vendors, Cloud Standards, you name it. I wouldn’t wonder whether there is Cloud Computing underwear :S

As far as I was reading, I found nothing really special or different to the services or proposals I already heard before: Ajax/HTML5 technologies (by the way, I am learning it and it’s pretty cool), Applications as Services (i.e. Google tools), Infrastructure as Service (i.e. Storage rent), Platforms as Service (i.e. Amazon EC2), Social Networking (i.e. Facebook), Virtualization (VirtualBox), etc.

Maybe I’m wrong… and if I do, please, help me to understand what is the actual innovation behind the term Cloud Computing? It doesn’t matter how many times I read the articles, the only thing I can find is a lot of people trying to speak in a fancy way about what the Internet use to be: a cloud of services.

I can’t ignore the consequences of the “Web 2.0”, definitely a new age for the Internet. With every new day, more and more of our data is stored in the cloud and less in our own hard disks. Think about it for a minute:

  • In the past, people used to read their mail from his Pop client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc), now everybody has a Gmail/Hotmail account.
  • In the past, people used to store family pictures in their computers, now a lot of persons use Picasa and Flickr.
  • In the past, people used to publish their personal home pages from different places, now they have blogs from centralized sites like WordPress or Blogspot (including me).

See what I mean? All our information is going to the network, so, ¿Is this trend what Cloud Computing means? the concept is still fuzzy for me 😦

As part of my research, I found a post called “The network is the computer“, related to how Internet services are replacing the companies’ local infrastructure but the text was published in 2006, three years ago, which made me think about how recent or new the “Cloud Computing” concept really is.

Is Cloud Computing the “Web 3.0”? I don’t know… but I don’t think so. The curious thing about this topic, is that all the companies who led the Web 2.0 wave are the same leading the services behind the so called “cloud”. Google, Amazon, Yahoo and maybe Sun and Microsoft, among others.

Sometimes I wonder about the way big companies try to hit us with apparently new concepts, new products or new ideas in a desperate pursuit for selling something to the world. Then again, Is the “Cloud Computing” just a commercial way to speak about the future of the “Web 2.0”?
At this point, I can’t stop thinking about the fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (Do you remember it from school?). After I heard so many times about vaporware, nothing surprises me.

Now, I would like to talk about the future, when the CPU disappears from our personal computers and all our data and applications can be only be accessed from a browser (Is this our reality already?), but this time, I feel lost in the middle of ignorance. For the first time, I give up rather than misunderstand what’s really behind this topic. I feel powerless :S

Cloud Computing?… definitely, a cloudy concept for me 😦

PS: Any help or opinion is very welcome. I want to find my way back 😛


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