The Debate Continues: What is the “Cloud?”
Last night, I attended #cloudcamp and joined 150+ IT professionals sharing, presenting, and at times passionately debating the definition of cloud. It was quite the event, and it provided technical insight on a term that is so loosely thrown around not only in IT , but also in education circles.
When speaking with teachers, admins and edtech folks, the term cloud is often associated to web-based software services hosted outside their infrastructure. Popular educator tools such as Google Apps, Zoho, and DropBox are frequently termed “cloud” computing. While Microsoft Live commercials call it the cloud, IT die hards will gladly contest that is not quite “cloud.” Part of the debate last night was the SaaS (Software as a Service) is not what the term “cloud” is all about. This is when the technical jargon between IaaS, PaaS, and other “aaS” (yes really!) are really where cloud begins. This is when platforms such as Microsoft Azure are really “cloud” solutions. In fact, cloud is considered to have only started in 2006 where Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) was offically offered. According to the #cloudcamp folks, cloud computing is simply defined as OSSM (awesome!), which stands for On Demand, Shared, Scaled, and Measurement. CIO.com also recently posted an article debating the same issue: What is Cloud Computing?
While this technical vernacular may mean nothing to my education community, I find the definition differences to be quite striking. The term cloud will continue to be a buzz word used by different communities to mean all sorts of technologies. The debate continues…but one thing I do agree upon from last night, “don’t buy the cloud, buy the solution.”
For those uber edtech and teacher geeks, here is a detailed explanation of IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS.