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Clear Up Confusion On Cloud Computing

March 16, 2011 No Comments

If your head hasn’t been lost up in the cirrus or cumulus, you’ve probably heard of cloud computing over the last few years.

“The cloud” has figured prominently in President Barack Obama’s technology initiatives, in the business plans of familiar tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, and even in a New Yorker cartoon last month – depicting a parachutist struggling to use a laptop.

It’s also been the occasional butt of skeptics, such as Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.

“It’s databases and operating systems and memory and microprocessors and the Internet. And all of a sudden, it’s none of that – it’s ‘the cloud,’ ” Ellison said – in a speech you can still pull down from the YouTube section of the cloud.

Oracle now offers “Premier Cloud Services,” but Ellison had a point. For a decade, Oracle had rented its enterprise-resource-management system to corporate customers who didn’t want to invest in their own hardware, software and IT personnel – a key advantage of using the cloud. So had other firms that pioneered “software as a service,” one of the buzz phrases of the cloud era.

Still, that doesn’t mean cloud computing is a nebulous idea or marketing ploy. Advocates such as Patrick Harr, Hewlett-Packard’s vice president of global cloud strategy, argue that recent technological and business developments make “the cloud” a truly different way of using computer resources.

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