According to a new marketing Guide by Sun Microsystems, cloud computing is:
At a basic level, cloud computing is simply a means of delivering IT resources as services.
Almost all IT resources can be delivered as a cloud service: applications, compute power, storage capacity, networking, programming tools, even communications services and collaboration tools.
How did cloud computing get started?
Cloud computing began as large-scale Internet service providers such as Google, Amazon, and others built out their infrastructure. An architecture emerged: massively scaled, horizontally distributed system resources, abstracted as virtual IT services and managed as continuously configured, pooled resources. This architectural model was immortalized by George Gilder in his October 2006 Wired magazine article titled “The Information Factories.” The server farms Gilder wrorrte about were architecturally similar to grid computing, but where grids are used for loosely coupled, technical computing applications, this new cloud model was being applied to Internet services.
(Interestingly, a search for the Gilder article on Wired produced “0” results. Google found it…on Wired!)
And what does it mean for you and me?
For end users, cloud computing means there are no hardware acquisition costs, no software licenses or upgrades to manage, no new employees or consultants to hire, no facilities to lease, no capital costs of any kind — and no hidden costs. Just a metered, per-use rate or a fixed subscription fee. Use only what you want, pay only for what you use.