Why we’ll never be able to define Cloud Computing
Don’t worry if you don’t understand what Cloud Computing is. You’re not meant to. By its nature a cloud of any type is something vague or ill-defined. Were it any different, Cloud Computing would simply evaporate.
The origin of the term Cloud Computing derives from early network design where a cloud represents what Douglas Adams once called an S.E.P. – Somebody Else’s Problem. It came about because network designers – used to meticulous modelling of the components, connectivity and contrivances of a network – had to link their carefully crafted network to somebody else’s. They were loath to describe the intricacies of somebody else’s network in as much loving detail as their own, so went about representing this incursion as a cloud.
Were they to describe in just a little bit more detail what exactly it is they were connecting to there would be no need to for a cloud. Just as today there would be no need for Cloud Computing if we really knew what it meant.
With a real cloud it’s possible to define it succinctly, such as ‘a visible mass of droplets suspended in the atmosphere’. No such joy with Cloud Computing. The often quoted NIST Definition of Cloud Computing runs to a couple of pages.
My argument is that in time the definition will become crystallised as being this or that, depending no doubt on the size of this or that’s marketing budget. And when it does become one thing or another, it will – by definition – no longer be a nebulous Cloud-like thing.