computing is a term that is thrown around like a footy after the siren has

gain a better understanding of cloud computing, we should think of the
electricity industry, in particular go back to the early days of electricity.
Once it was realised that there was the wonderful concept known as electricity
with one of the initial uses being a light bulb to light up the night, there
needed to be a way to generate electricity. Sure, you could have your own
coal-fired power station at your house that you could provide fuel for and run
some electrical cabling in your house to use but it was quite obvious that this
was not going to be an efficient method of producing electricity.

Edison devised the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb in 1879
but I believe his real genius was the fact that he developed the first large scale
electrical utility when he organised investors to back six jumbo dynamos that
were housed at Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan. In 1882, Edison had 85
customers with a total of 400 light bulbs. He owned the electrical network, he
generated the electricity and sold the light bulbs as well. He had completely
wrapped up a vertical market segment!

genius was that he realised that it was inefficient for each location that
wanted a light bulb to also have to generate its own electricity. By connecting
to his electrical network, the electricity could be generated more efficiently
at one central location and that power is then distributed to those who need to
use it.

forward 134 years, and we have an incredibly complicated system called the
electrical grid that has houses and businesses connected with electrical
cabling to a complicated network of transformers and cabling that goes back to
centralised locations where large amounts of power are produced for the
network. When we turn on a light in our kitchen, we don’t really think about
the power that is produced at a centralised coal-fired power station ‘somewhere
else’ which is then delivered to us by this network of cables and transformers.
We simply flick the light switch and go about our day.

electrical example is analogous to our modern cloud computing environment.

have an incredibly complicated system of interconnected computers around the
world that you may have heard of. It is called the Internet. ARPANET adopted
the TCP/IP protocol on 1 January 1983 and from there the ‘network of networks’
began to form that is the basis of our modern Internet.

you think of the Internet as the electrical grid, cloud service providers are
the equivalent of power generation companies. They generate services on a
massive scale so individual users and businesses can choose the functionality
they require in much the same way that we choose to use power when we flick on
a light switch. While all this may sound largely irrelevant to you, over 90 per
cent of computer users in the world use at least one form of cloud computing.

of e-mail.

I go back twenty years in my IT history, I can remember selling clients
Microsoft Exchange Server for their e-mail needs. It was a massive investment.
The physical server required along with the software and setup was easily
$10,000 – maybe more. For a small business of just a few employees, it was
incredibly expensive to have e-mail in their business. Fast forward to today
and you can have basic cloud e-mail services (Gmail; Hotmail; yahoo; etc.) for
free or you can have full-blown modern Exchange e-mail environments for less
than $10 per mailbox per month.

computing is not a binary decision. Cloud computing is an à la carte menu.
There are a huge number of services available in the cloud. Your decision is
simply to choose the items from the menu that you require and pay the
appropriate fee. You also need to trust that your cloud provider is going to
continue to deliver on the sales promise.

to the cloud!

Mathew Dickerson

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