Alex Barnett blog


So what do we mean by the 'Internet Cloud'?

Danny dropped by and asked me: "Hi Alex, do you happen to know of any half-decent definition of "the cloud"?"

I know it sounds corny, but 'good question'!!

So I'll give it a go.

Now, I could get textual, but I'll first try to answer with a few pics...

Maybe I see the 'cloud' as over-developed green jellyfish layer that's growing over the surface and orbit of Earth?

Click for larger image

Hmmm, maybe not.

Or is it more like a cliché?

Maybe it's more like one giant thought-bubble in the sky?

Internet thought balloon

Or a memecloud perhaps...

Mememap, August 2002 Alex Barnett

Or, and I do like this one, a cloud of APIs:

Enough pics.

Let's get textual now. Here are some that allude to the half-decent definition you're asking for:

"the Internet cloud, where massive facilities across the globe will store all the data you'll ever use" - George Gilder

Good, but limiting. The cloud is much more than 'just' all the data in the sky. Next...

"Like a cloud, the Net can't be pinned down - it's alive, unpredictable, and, as innumerable startups learn, can prove a funnel cloud or even a Bengali typhoon. When the Internet is depicted as cumulus humilis, it's dead wrong...It's much more altostratus - intense, rapid - and a failure to give it proper respect can result in disaster." - John Chambers

Yeah, kind of, but not particularly helpful in terms of understanding what is meant by 'cloud' (and, frankly, a little over-dramatic for my taste).

The next is more like it:

"Once your software becomes a service in the cloud, it opens up the potential to link it up with other services that are out there. For many vendors and users this is still a barely dawning realization, but it's of fundamental importance. In many ways, the Internet cloud is one great global SOA — still very rudimentary in many ways, but flexible enough to accommodate different levels of sophistication, and evolving fast." - Phil Whainewright

Descriptive, yes, and with the right keyword: services, but it's not really the definition I think you might be looking for.

So I'll have a go this time. Consider this a mesh-up (and I mean 'mesh') of the above definitions:

The Internet cloud, where the distributed and programmable network of services across the globe will serve all the data, resources and functionality we will ever use.

I grant, it's more of a prediction than a definition as I'm using the future tense ('will') rather than the present tense ('does'). But we're all going there. It's just a matter of when.

How's that?

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