If the film The Graduate were set today, Mr. McGuire's career advice for Ben Braddock might not be one word: "plastics," but two words: "cloud computing."
So what is cloud computing? It is an arrangement whereby the end user's computer does not need to hold within itself all of the data or software programs and applications that are being used. Instead, the end user is accessing and leveraging third-party systems that are "in the cloud," which is another way of saying remotely connected via the Internet. Anyone who has used Google Mail or Google Docs has used cloud computing.
The beauty of cloud computing is that by leveraging someone else's resources, users can typically save money. Companies that need to quickly set up data centers or expand existing infrastructures can do that less expensively with cloud computing.
For complex environments, setting up cloud computing arrangements will not necessarily be easy. In Cloud Application Architectures: Building Applications and Infrastructure in the Cloud, author George Reese provides a valuable overview to the topic and details his experiences--both successes and failures--around cloud computing.
As a new physical model for corporate computing, cloud computing requires a completely new approach to security, privacy, and disaster recovery compared to current models. The book thankfully dedicates a number of chapters to these important topics. The book notes that if done correctly, security in the cloud can actually be better than in an internal data center, so the move to cloud computing can result in a high-security computing infrastructure.
The challenge, of course, is doing it right. For those who want a brief but serious introduction to cloud computing, Cloud Application Architectures provides an excellent introduction and overview to this important computing environment.
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