The 3 reasons to think different in the cloud

Once you grasp these three key tenets, you'll fully understand what the cloud has to offer over traditional computing

I'm always amazed when I hear everyone's varying takes on cloud computing. For some, there's a profit motive, such as with technology providers spinning into cloud computing. For others, such as enterprise IT, it's the ability to brag about their cloud computing projects. However, in many cases, nothing really changes other than labels.

I assert that real cloud computing is not just a way of doing computing, but a way of thinking about computing that's different from traditional approaches, specifically in terms of sharing, trusting, and accounting.

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The fundamental tenet of cloud computing is that we share resources, including storage, processing, and development tools. Thus, the model is not just virtualization or remote hosting, it's the ability to manage thousands of tenants simultaneously in the same physical hardware environment. The obvious benefit of this aspect of cloud computing is the economy of scale and, thus, much lower operational costs.

The second important aspect of cloud computing is the ability to trust those who manage your IT assets hosted on local or remote cloud computing platforms. The biggest barrier to cloud computing is not the ability to perform to SLAs, but for enterprises to trust public cloud providers or those charged with private clouds with the management of those assets: no trust, no migration, no cloud.

Finally, "accounting" refers to the ability to pay only for resources you use and to ensure you've been able to meet all performance and uptime expectations. After all, you now get computing resources that show up like items in a phone bill, listing the time or the instances you accessed during a given period. Although many embrace this approach, others find it odd compared to current practices. In essence, it's a more sophisticated return to the timeshare model.

Cloud computing will become a reality only if we're able to think differently. If instead we try to fit our square pegs into a round hole by making a square hole, nothing changes. No value will come.

This article, "The 3 reasons to think different in the cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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