“Computing In The Clouds”
by Aaron Weiss
The Guide to Computing Literature, Networker Magazine
December 2007
In 1943, IBM Chairman Thomas Watson said, “I think there’s a world market for maybe five computer.”  [pg. 18]  The personal computing industry that began in the 1970’s and current popularity of cloud computing prove that Watson’s statement could not have been more wrong.  Weiss defines cloud computing generally as the ability to distribute computer processes over a large number of small computers/servers in order to maximize the efficient use of resources.  The idea being if one were to do an internet search through Google, for example, that Google could distribute the work of doing the actual search over a large number of computers rather than one large (and powerful) computer doing the search and returning the results to the user.   The relevant question, in this case, is how does Google most efficiently distribute the task of fulfilling the search to many individual computers/servers in order to decrease the time it takes to conduct the search and then return the results to the user.

The article also provides working definitions of SaaS and utility computing in order to understand how they relate or should be considered as part of the larger cloud computing phenomenon.  The most important and influential SaaS established to date is the creation of web-based email.  While many individuals, organizations and companies do not entirely depend on web-based email service, the trend is quickly moving in that direction.   Weiss refers to SaaS, as in the case of web-based email, as merely a revival of an older concept known as “thin client” computing.  In the realm of cloud computing, the most relevant concern that emerges is privacy because operating in the cloud and allowing a third party to store and/or process your digital information requires a high level of trust.

This article is relevant because it sheds light on the fact that cloud computing is a popular, “buzzword almost designed to be vague[.]”  [pg. 25]  One reaction to this piece is to feel that it is not possible to provide a complete definition for the terminology ‘cloud computing.’  Nevertheless, a more appropriate conclusion might be to think of cloud computing as a trend that “draws on many existing technologies and architectures.” [pg. 25]