I know a thing or two about defining IT terms. Some concepts, however, are so nebulous or fraught with marketing hype that they beggar most attempts.
I was assigned “cloud computing” for WhatIs.com eons ago. (Actually, in 2007).
The definition has been revised since that first attempt — as one might expect — but the one liner that remains is apt:
“Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet.”
Much as I hate to admit it, I prefer a distilled version of Wikipedia‘s current definition for cloud computing (as of May 20, anyway):
“Cloud computing is a computing paradigm where dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet.”
After I posed the question of a definition on Twitter, Chris Hoff passed me a note with the following elements that he would suggest for a cloud computing definition:
1. Abstraction of infrastructure
2. Democratization of resources
3. Service oriented
4. Elasticity/dynamism w/self-service
5. Utility mode of allocation and consumption
Hoff called out a quote from Interop today as well: “Cloud computing is not a technology, it’s an operational model.” (Forgive me — lost the attribution.) The point the speaker was making — and it’s not a new one — is that cloud computing is itself made up of hundreds of other technologies and subsets, including storage-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, etc.
For more on those elements, go read Hoff (aka @Beaker) at his blog, “Rational Survivability,” where his “Update on the Cloud (Ontology/Taxonomy) Model” provides considerable insight into the bits, bytes, models and pieces.
There’s a good discussion of a definition for cloud computing over at “Cloud Talk,” too.