What is cloud computing? From my last post I talked about the cloud really being just another word for the Internet with added extras to store data. If that's the case, cloud computing is just running a computer in the cloud, or running a computer on the Internet that will run other applications.
Cloud computing came into it own with the ability to run virtual servers. Ok, what is a virtual server? Let's start with a server, at the risk of being too basic. A server is just a computer that runs on the Internet and provides information to client computers, your home computer, for example, when asked. Your looking at this web page which came from a server in Utah, a computer on the Internet, which sends your home computer browser this web page, which you requested when you clicked on the URL for this page.
Then a virtual server is a computer on the Internet, separate from any other computer on the Internet, that runs on an actual server. Huh? What I mean is you can have many virtual servers all running on one actual computer server in a server room in Utah. So I can have hundreds of virtual servers running on one actual hardware server.
This is all done with virtual server software that puts walls around each virtual server so it appears like the virtual server in an independent computer.
For this blog, I run a computer in Utah, that I can access, edit, and save files. I can load executable applications and run them, just like running Excel on my home computer. From my virtual computer in Utah, I run a web server application that provides this blogs pages to you in your browser window. It's my computer, no one else can use this computer unless I grant them access.
If I'm a web provider, I can now sell to thousands of individuals and companies web space, to run their web page, and I may only have a couple of racks of actual hardware servers in my computer room, this makes lots of money for the web provider.
But cloud computing has grown from just running web pages, and this is why its gotten to be a market where war is being waged. It's a dogfight out there right now.
What's the fight. Well, any company with excess server space can now sell server space on their computers to anyone who will pay to have a virtual computer running on that particular companies hardware. The reason for the war is there is a benefit for not having computer servers at your company.
If I want to cut my IT computer costs at my company, the quickest way is to get rid of my hardware, and run off of virtual servers on the Internet.
The benefits are the company no longer has to worry about backups, adding new disk storage as the company expands, handling sudden peak usage by adding more computer power, which may not be needed later, upgrading every computer in the organization with new operating system releases, or repairing internal network problems. The key is taking away all those worries of having enough disk space and computer power for the coming year, and replacing that with a relatively fixed monthly cost. That's alluring to an IT manager trying to figure out how to budget computer hardware costs.
If I'm shopping for virtual server space for my company, which provider do I use for that space? And there lies the battle in the industry right now. This is a classic market share battle with a lots of competitors who will gradually be shaken out until we end up with a couple of winners.
Right now, Amazon's AWS, that pioneered cloud computing, is leading the pack. But AWS has a learning curve and is hard to get started on, so there's lots of room for interface improvement and cost reduction.
Cloud computing is going to get even bigger than this already huge company market. Just like computing that started with the mainframe, then moved to minicomputers, and then to personal computers, and then to smart phones, cloud computing is doing the same with individuals, not just companies. The demand for individual computers on the Internet will gradually expand.
Another war will ensue for the company that makes the easiest interface for individuals to have their computer on the Internet at the most reasonable cost. Why have your own computer on the web? Well, I'll talk about that in my next article.