Cloud is “in”, en steeds meer -Nederlandse- providers willen een stukje van die onmetelijke koek. Maar wat is Cloud computing nu precies? Met een eenvoudige analogie kan dit helder worden: eten!

What do you want for dinner?
One of the most famoud scenes in “When Harry Met Sally” shows Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) ordering pie at a diner. Sally Albright: But I’d like the pie heated and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it’s real; if it’s out of the can then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally Albright: No, I want the pie, but then not heated.

Cloud Computing is cool or hot too, yet in another way: many providers want to offer a piece of it to… well, to anybody, as long as they can sell.
But do you need it and does it fit into your idea about services? Well, for that answer you need to know what it is. The NIST definition leaves room for broad interpretations, sometimes even to cook up old and traditional products. We could use the analogy of food to clarify the types of cloud computing. The final question will be: what’s in it for me, and the answer might depend on your present and future dinner wishes. Below we discuss different food scenarios, clarifying cloud concepts.

Dinner cooked in your own kitchen
Opposed to cloud computing: Traditional applications, platforms and infrastructure in a LAN/WAN environment, you get what you want within boundaries.

Take-away food
Standard menus, sometimes you are forced to change your process of eating, with your hands or with one-time-usage forks and plates. This is Cloud computing in its broadest sense, getting services from the Internet.

Snacks, like crepes and spring-rolls
Sold on the street without high expectations. The inbetween, varying from internet-banking to storing some pictures and sending birthday greeting cards, not regarded as a proper Cloud service yet convenient at times.

Daily morning coffee
Available at home but also on your way to the office, latte, expresso, decafe. A wide variety that your own kitchen cannot provide you with, of course it can but then it requires a lot of investments. Mail from google, yahoo, facebook, penetrating the market through the individual not through organizations. Where would I be without my mail and morning paper! Very, extremely important yet not treated as a proper meal.

Many flavours but always on dow, flat and crispy, sometimes rolled, mostly with some over-crispy edges. Definitely a kind of Dropbox, very convenient and useful yet, caution, sometimes hazardous/hackardous.

Chinese take-away
Flabbergasting variety of combinations with some standard main components: rice, noodles, mie. Three or four sauces and that’s about it: you get the infrastructure (e.g. the box, stirring or cooking), the platform (the rice) and the applications (bamboo, duck and ginger) and three of four service levels, gold, silver and bronze (sauce). The sauces have splendid names but it’s hard to find out whether they are healthy and what’s in it. Most of the time only after trying you get a vague idea about the sauce/servicelevel you’re offered. Local cloud providers have different flavours and ingredients in contrast to global players, see below public cloud.

Microwave food
Eaten in a restaurant you pay the full price whereas you can do it yourself as well: virtualization, sold as cloud, yet it is done on the same physical servers as on your LAN/WAN. Virtualization is not a service but a means to a service.

Fast-Dinner party at home
You have collected some food at several take-away restaurant. Nobody guarantuees the compatibility of Chinese spring-rolls, Italian pizza and Turkish baklava. Private cloud: ’though you are the director of the scene, do not expect the connecting link of the parts.

McDonalds, KFC and BurgerKing
Public Cloud (Microsoft, Amazon and Google and out of the box-solutions). Great stuff!! Stick to the standards and you’ll be happy. The have roadmaps, academies and certifications all in respect of themselves, not in respect to you.

Maggi Seasoning
See Microwave: virtualization, used worldwide but you don’t care about the ingredients as long as it tastes and looks great

Meal services
Popular in large groups of elderly, cooked somewhere else and should bring back reminiscenses of homemade meals. System providers service their traditional desktop solutions and servers from a related datacenter: old wine in new bags.

egg-laying jackrabbit mule (from the German “Eierlegende Wollmilchsau”)
The all-in-one solution for all: tasty, crispy, soft, healthy, “green”, flexibel, reliable, vegetarian, low-cholesterol and nutritious pig/mule.