Cloud Computing is a new term for a long-held dream of computing as a utility, which has recently emerged as a commercial reality. A rapidly increasing list of companies, including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, now offer Cloud Computing services.
Now developers with innovative ideas for new interactive Internet services no longer require the large capital outlays in hardware to deploy their service or the human expense to operate it. They need not be concerned about over-provisioning for a service whose popularity does not meet their predictions, thus wasting costly resources, or under-provisioning for one that becomes wildly popular, thus missing potential customers and revenue.
This democratization of large scale computing means that Berkeley undergraduates in a few weeks could create a new service used by millions without having to first purchase, house, and run a supercomputer.
Moreover, people with bulk processing tasks--which includes many scientists and engineers--can get their results as quickly as their programs can scale, since using 1000 servers for one hour costs no more than using one server for 1000 hours. This elasticity of resources, without paying a premium for large scale, is unprecedented in the history of information technology.
Cloud Computing is transforming the information technology industry, making software even more attractive as a service and shaping the way computer hardware is designed and purchased.
To learn more:
Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing, by Michael Armbrust, Armando Fox, Rean Griffith, Anthony D. Joseph, Randy H. Katz, Andrew Konwinski, Gunho Lee, David A. Patterson, Ariel Rabkin, Ion Stoica and Matei Zaharia, EECS Department, University of California, Berkeley, Technical Report No. UCB/EECS-2009-28, February 10, 2009.