You can read a lot of lists about what the Cloud is; how it can revolutionize business and how we interact with technology. The Cloud, if you believe some blogs, is the answer to all of our prayers rather than just a bunch of cloud servers. It’s true that Cloud Computing is fundamentally shifting the technology industry. The biggest change is that we’re moving from using desktop PCs to having all the same information and data accessible from handheld devices. It’s meant that designers and software makers have had to shift the applications, the systems and the services they are developing and offering. Not only consumers interacting with them differently but they are also expecting different things from them; look at the changes in Maps for example, rather than just giving directions we now need to know how far away the nearest petrol station, Wi-Fi zone or coffee shop is.
It’s exciting, if nothing else, and it has been a great leveller. Smartphones and tablets are much more affordable so the Cloud is more accessible. It’s something we can all use, to differing degrees, and therefore all have an opinion.
As positive as all this is, it isn’t all good news. The fact that we all have an opinion means there’s a lot of inaccurate information about the Cloud out there. Rumour and conjecture becomes fact in the course of an afternoon in the blogosphere, making it difficult for those who sell Cloud services, whether as a vendor or re-seller, to get their point across clearly.
So while The Cloud is made of cloud servers, here are five things it’s not:
- You can’t visit it. Yes, there are physical farms of cloud servers where real and tangible servers are held securely. But the Cloud isn’t somewhere you can visit. It’s not a state of mind, either. Think of it as wherever your data is, just a touch of a button away. That’s what makes it so flexible.
- Virtualization and the Cloud are not the same thing. Virtualization is the ability to run "virtual machines" on top of a "hypervisor." Virtualization can run on a physical machine, but isn’t limited to just one. It’s the process that makes Cloud Computing, particularly Cloud VPS servers possible. But it’s not the same as Cloud Architecture. That’s the framework that allows you to access Cloud Services. Confused? Think of virtualization as the technology that makes the Cloud possible. The Cloud is the ability to drive and travel to places quicker. Virtualization is the car.
- The Cloud isn’t a locked cell. It can be tempting, particularly if you find technology a bit jargon heavy and overwhelming, to think that signing up to the Cloud means you can simply toss responsibility over to someone else. You’re putting your data, services and information on a vendor's cloud servers. You’re entrusting a lot to an outside provider and so you need to keep an eye on it and change the service if you need to. Problems with those relying on the Cloud, like LinkedIn and GoDaddy shows there’s still a need for management. Just because it’s in the Cloud doesn’t mean you don’t have control of it anymore.
- It’s not one Cloud for big business and another for entrepreneurs. The Cloud is one great leveller. No matter your budget, size, resources and knowledge you can use the same Cloud resources as a multi-national even if you’re a one man band. It offer the same chance for business to test and invest in applications without taking a huge risk in terms of cost and investment. That makes it much easier for small firms and entrepreneurs to grow their offer and expand.
- The Cloud is not all talk. There is a lot written about the Cloud. A LOT. It can be tempting, therefore, to dismiss it as all talk. It isn’t the case and the rapid uptake of the Cloud over the past year, particularly amongst entrepreneurs and SMEs has resulted in a lot of positive case studies. It has changed how businesses and individuals relate to technology. They feel more in control of it, rather than the other way around. This shift is at the heart of cloud adoption and means that whatever is said about it, the Cloud is a game changer.