Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What is Cloud Computing?

Today's new term lies quietly toward the end of the video below. Cloud Computing is an old idea made new and finally, fittingly, with today's inauguration of Barack Obama as our new president, it is making its way into politics and government. Watch the video and get a sense of how information is to be processed by the new administration. Love that new use of the word "mashing."

Here are a couple of links for readers who want to drill into the technology of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a computing paradigm in which tasks are assigned to a combination of connections, software and services accessed over a network. This network of servers and connections is collectively known as "the cloud." Computing at the scale of the cloud allows users to access supercomputer-level power. Using a thin client or other access point, like an iPhone, BlackBerry or laptop, users can reach into the cloud for resources as they need them. For this reason, cloud computing has also been described as "on-demand computing." [More at this LINK]

Cloud computing is Internet ("cloud") based development and use of computer technology (computing). It is a style of computing in which resources are provided "as a service" over the Internet to users who need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure ("in the cloud") that supports them

It is a general concept that incorporates software as a service (SaaS), Web 2.0 and other recent, well-known technology trends, in which the common theme is reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users. An often-quoted example is Google Apps, which provides common business applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on Google servers.

The cloud is a metaphor for the Internet, based on how it is depicted in computer network diagrams, and is an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it conceals. [Link here for the Wikipedia article.]

Results interest me more than process. I'm truly thankful that legions of technical people figure out the details, but when the dust settles their tasks are means to an end.

Years ago I recall Newt Gingrich making an impromptu speech to a group I was in that went to Washington for a day trip. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an old-fashioned vacuum tube, the kind radios and TV's once used. He said part of the problem with government was that so much of it was as obsolete as that vacuum tube. Underscoring the point, he told us that air traffic controllers in America still depended on equipment so obsolete that it required vacuum tubes instead of transistors to operate. This was not "way back when." I don't recall the exact year, but it was only a few years before 9/11 and everyone knew he was making a point that was sad but true. Hopefully that is no longer the case, but you never know.

Even though the government may finally have moved past vacuum tubes, there is plenty of updating and housekeeping long overdue. From what he said repeatedly during the campaign, Barack Obama has already seen the same need and is about to make housekeeping and updating one of his first priorities.

I'm grateful to techPresident for the link.
Go there to learn more about the TIGR team (Technology Innovation and Government Reform, Virginia. This isn't about Winnie the Pooh.)

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