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Summary:

[qi:gigaom_icon_cloud-computing] Thanks to the amazing viral powers of Twitter, I found a series that CNN is running on cloud computing, complete with stories (I liked the one on server huggers) and fun video about an oddly named dog. The goal clearly is to explain cloud computing […]

[qi:gigaom_icon_cloud-computing] Thanks to the amazing viral powers of Twitter, I found a series that CNN is running on cloud computing, complete with stories (I liked the one on server huggers) and fun video about an oddly named dog. The goal clearly is to explain cloud computing to the masses, but when you show someone hosting a photo at Picasa or Flickr and say, “You’ve just started cloud computing,” you’ve just messed up.

Storing data in the cloud is the same as storing it online. In fact, if they remade the video (embedded below) and replaced the word “cloud” with “web” or “online,” it all would still make sense — but that’s not cloud computing. Cloud computing is providing processing power on demand and charging for it on a per instance basis. Yeah, that’s far geekier, but it helps someone sift through all the hype around the cloud and cloud computing, something the CNN video and story doesn’t really do.

Not that many of the vendors who provide either web-based services like Google’s Gmail or actual cloud computing like Amazon really helped the poor writer out. Google refused to let him tour their data centers (no surprise) and Amazon’s Adam Selipsky, VP of Amazon Web Services, told him, “From a customer’s perspective, it is a cloud, and it can be magic.”

Wow, can we all try a little less hard to make this stuff easy to understand?

  1. Gregory Schultz Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    And this is why blogs like GigaOM and the rest are excellent at reporting stories with a tech angle. CNN, MSNBC and FOX News should stick to general news.

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    1. Industry pundits love to pontificate on that which they believe is cutting edge. Cloud computing is, in large part, an example.

      The use of thin client over a wide area link to a central resource is not new. It used to be called dumb terminals and mainframes. Add in the bill-per-use nuance and you have something that used to be called timesharing. Sure, the delivery means (IP) is very different, and the “mainframe” has now become server farm(s) implementing various levels of virtual resources. But at the end of the day, not a great deal of difference, is there?

      So, let’s not get too hung up on how smart we are in defining distinction without a difference.

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  2. Maybe it’s just because “the cloud” is a retarded concept, and retarded buzzword jargon? idk…

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    1. It’s not so much that the concept is retarded – it’s that there’s no standard definition.

      I’ve written my take on it here:
      http://bobdoeshosting.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-does-cloud-mean.html

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  3. While you’re technically correct, Stacey, I think CNN’s wider definition of the cloud (to mean storing things offsite instead of on your desktop) will definitely become the de facto definition within a couple of years.

    Anyone who attends tech conferences, like Web 2.0, knows that the folks on stage always use the cloud in this larger sense, and not in the pay-by-the-drip sense.

    What’s important is the concept, not the term, and unfortunately the two concepts aren’t the same.

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  4. I’m pleased you have such a strong grasp of what cloud is and isn’t — however most of the industry sees it as an important shift – well beyond just computing cycles. And – IMHO – hosting pictures online sure as heck qualifies. Consider Amazons S3 … for most of us that’s definitely part of the cloud story.

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    1. Stacey Higginbotham Thursday, November 5, 2009

      There are two concepts here. We need to distinguish between the two, so normal people realize there are actually two concepts. One is storing and accessing stuff online (a trend consumers are taking large part in) and the other is buying compute and storage infrastructure on demand, which is a business and IT trend. Unclear language leads to “cloudy” thinking.

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  5. Meh, I would say that Flickr or Picasa are a really basic version of “Cloud Computing” even if, as others have said, it’s a crummy meaningless buzzword.

    Cloud computing isn’t just Google app Engine and Amazon’s Servers.

    You’re still “using the computi9ng power of the cloud” to store your photos and organize them and if you extend Flickr using something like Picnik you’re using Cloud computing.

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    1. Stacey Higginbotham Thursday, November 5, 2009

      It’s “a crummy meaningless buzzword” because we have let it mean too many things. Which is why I’m trying to stand up for accurate definitions :)

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      1. Maybe we could differentiate ‘Cloud Computing” and “Cloud Storage” and join tem under something like “Cloud Solutions”.

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      2. I’m still waiting for a “broadband” Internet connection in my house.

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  6. Many pieces of language are bastardized (or should I say, mutated) by transferring from a small sect to the masses.

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  7. Larry Ellison used a similar description of cloud computing when he said Google was cloud computing in this rant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UYa6gQC14o&NR=1&feature=fvwp

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  8. Stacey,

    I’m glad that you brought this to my attention and I agree with you about its validity and lack of a solid definition. In fact, I posted a “rebuttal” of sorts on the GoGrid blog, especially because the video is “very” similar in many ways to one that we did over a year ago.

    Here is my post: http://blog.gogrid.com/2009/11/05/cnn-copies-gogrids-cloud-computing-explained-video/

    Thanks,
    Michael

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  9. Clouds are like Electricity: Dont be Scared

    IT clouds (compute, applications, storage, and services) are like electricity in that they can be scary or confusing to some while being enabling or a necessity s to others not to mention being a polarizing force depending on where you sit or view them.

    As a polarizing force, if you are a cloud crowd cheerleader or evangelist, you might view someone who does not subscribe or share your excitement, views or interpretations as a cynic.

    On the other hand, if you are a skeptic, or perhaps scared or even a cynic, you might view anyone who talks about cloud in general or not specific terms as a cheerleader.

    Read more here:
    http://storageioblog.com/?p=657

    And here:
    Clouds and Data Loss: Time for CDP (Commonsense Data Protection)?
    http://storageio.com/blog/?p=704

    Visit and caste your vote on poll about clouds here:
    http://storageioblog.com/?p=665

    Cheers gs
    Greg Schulz – Author “The Green and Virtual Data Center” (CRC) and founder Server and StorageIO

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  10. I would never think to relate a boy and his dog to explaining cloud computing. For someone who didn’t understand this concept before, they will be more confused than ever now. I like the format they used for the video, but that’s about it.

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