Cloud Computing: Getting the Basics

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Is it possible people still don't understand what cloud computing is? Perhaps more significant, is it possible that people in business don't understand cloud computing and how it could be implemented in their companies? I'm forced to consider this possibility following a recent Twitter exchange between @WindowsITPro and another Twitter user.

When asked what topics he'd like to see us cover, the user replied, "stop hyping cloud services. Every client we have wants to 'leverage' the cloud. They have no clue what cloud is." Of course, I have no idea what type of clients this consultant is working with, and if you're reaching out to a consultant for IT assistance, maybe you can be forgiven for not understanding the meaning of terms -- but wanting to jump on the bandwagon anyway.

Of course, there's a big difference between "hyping" the cloud and educating users and businesses about what the cloud has to offer, including the pitfalls and drawbacks that careful companies will thoroughly examine before implementing a cloud strategy. If you're tuned in to the messages from cloud service providers -- the vendors whose livelihood depends on you buying into the cloud -- then yes, you're probably hearing a lot of hype. I'd like to think that Windows IT Pro, however, is firmly situated on the side of education.

If you're reading this, you're probably not someone who is clueless about cloud computing -- but it might be that, like the Twitter user above, you work with people who have failed to grasp the basics of cloud computing. It might be companies you work with as a consultant; it could be end users in your organization; it might be less-savvy co-workers in your IT department; or it might even be your boss or other superiors in the organization. To help you deal with any of these individuals, here are a few cloud computing resources that focus on the basics.

  • Cloud Computing 101. As its name implies, this article from Windows IT Pro technical director and directory services MVP Sean Deuby is a perfect starting point for understanding what's going on with the cloud. You'll lean the basic characteristics of cloud computing and the difference between public and private clouds as well as some of the key terminology, such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
  • Is Cloud Computing Really Killing IT Pro Jobs? Another article from Deuby, this one tries to alleviate the fears many IT pros have that cloud computing is the same as outsourcing their jobs. It's true that the nature of IT work is changing, but that's always what happens as technologies develop -- and it applies to pretty much every profession, not just IT. Deuby helps show the way to what IT pros can focus on to help their careers in a cloud future.
  • How Cloud Computing Works. This article by Jonathan Strickland on HowStuffWorks.com is another thorough exploration of the basics of cloud computing. It also does a good job of relating the issues behind some of the primary concerns people typically have about relying on cloud providers: security and privacy. This one is aimed at company executives.
  • What are the US government federal guidelines on the use of cloud computing? This short Q&A from IT guru Greg Shields looks at a few recommendations from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publication "Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing." The article also contains a link to the full 80-page report from NIST in case your business has security concerns that make you want more in depth information.

In addition to these specific articles, you might want to keep up-to-date with current news or trends by following topical resources such as the Windows IT Pro Cloud Computing blog and David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog on InfoWorld.

There's plenty of information out there about cloud computing that avoids the hype and serves to educate business execs, IT pros, and users about what it is, how they can use it, and why they should care. So next time you're faced with someone clueless about the cloud, perhaps you can show them how to find that silver lining.

Follow B. K. Winstead on Twitter at @bkwins
Follow Windows IT Pro on Twitter at @windowsitpro

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What's Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing information, news, and tips covering Hyper-V, IaaS, PaaS, private cloud, public cloud, SaaS, security, trends, and more.

Contributors

B. K. Winstead

B. K. Winstead is a former editor for Windows IT Pro specializing in Exchange Server, messaging, mobility, unified communications, and cloud computing.

Jeff James

Jeff James is a former editor for Windows IT Pro.
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