A meeting today went well where I explained that cloud computing which one of the persons recognized was something else than a traditional RDBMS and I said that cloud computing is that everthing is software. It didn't seem like "Aha!" when I said it so I wonder what I should say. I thought the main specifics of cloud computing are integrated services, no traditional RDBMS and resources are allocated as software and payment model is pay per usage instead of pay per hardware. And/or should I stress the concept of PaaS i.e. that it is a platform?

Wikipedia says the distinction is between products and services but that we said about web services 15 years ago.

Thanks in advance for you answers

  • 1
    I refer to one of my co-workers, who's online while he's traveling, as a "cloud service".
    – jhocking
    Sep 14 '11 at 20:03

Although you can host your own cloud, for most businesses it means this:

You pay another company to "take care" of some or all your data.

Your data lives on their computers, where their employees take care of

  • your data (in the sense of keeping it alive, not in the sense of keeping it up to date),
  • privileged access to your data (at least some parts of "privileged access"),
  • the software that manages your data, and
  • the computers that run the software that manages your data.

Their employees take care of upgrades to the software and to the computers. Depending on the contract, their employees might take care of disaster recovery, too.

Now, if that all sounds too good to be true . . .


The term "cloud" has a high emotional content and little well defined, specific informational content.

If you're trying to explain things, avoid the use of the term "cloud". You may look up and use the definition of terms like IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, depending on what you mean when you say "cloud".

If you're trying to sell things, you should definitely say "cloud" as often as possible.


I always explain "the cloud" by analogy to the electrical grid.

With "the grid", you don't need to run a generator or power plant. You don't need to buy fuel directly. You simply pay someone to keep electricity going to you. When you need electricity, you flip a switch and take what you want. You don't have to think about where the electricity is being produced or how it is getting to you -- that's the electric company's problem. They bill you every month for what you use.

The downsides are much the same too. If the grid has a failure, you go dark. And there's not much you can do about it except complain.

To some extent, you can think about it as "storage as a service".


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