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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondSo cloud computing is one of those very popular terms used today about information technology. Now, what it means. Interestingly, we have no idea really where the term is coming from. So it worked very well as a metaphor because the essence of what cloud computing is all about is that you don't own your IT. And not only that you don't own it, it is not even on your premises. And you usually don't have any idea of where it is. So it is somewhere in the cloud. We don't know much about it. And somehow, people and organisations have some sort of attachment to their IT.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsAnd it is also really unclear why because we are perfectly happy not to own quite a lot of the technology we use. However, as you will see later on, the car metaphors works very well here as well as in many other cases about information technology. I like the car metaphor because the car technology history is much longer. And we got much more time to have our relationship with that type of technology evolve and so on. While for computers, all this is much shorter.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 secondsBut if you think about cars, you usually want to own your car. But our attachment to the cars is disappearing. So more and more people are not particularly keen on owning their cars. It is OK to rent one and so on. And this will be something which is hopefully also happening in terms of the IT. And this is exactly what gave rise to the cloud computing. So it means that you need your IT to do what you want it to do. So your informations system have to be there, it needs to deliver certain results, but you don't necessarily need to have an IT department, you don't necessarily have to have your servers, and so on.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 secondsWhat is the advantage if you don't have all these things? Well, if you are not a super large company, you might not need a full IT department. You would need maybe 1/4 of the IT department but you would need still all areas of expertise covered so there need to be someone to maintain your servers, to deal with your software, to deal with the people who are using those computers and so on. However, instead of hiring someone on 25% job, you might also decide to outsource these things so that someone else is doing it for you. They are still doing it on your premises.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 secondsBut it is much easier if they don't need to come to you, but it is done somewhere else and they just do it for you. And you receive all that as some sort of service. Now, this will be how the whole cloud computing works that there will be always something delivered as a service. And we will go later on into the details of what is delivered as a service. Just So what are the other advantages? If you want really, really fast computing however you only need it on a few occasions, then buying the super strong computers is very expensive. What would it be if you only have the super computer for those short periods of time?

Skip to 3 minutes and 34 secondsThen you will really need that kind of processing power. So this is what is enabled if you use it in a cloud because the cloud is a shared pool of resources, which are far greater than what you would normally need. So if you think in terms of the cars, it would mean like if you have several hundreds of salespeople who are not all of them on trip all the time and, therefore, you have smaller set of cars. So always those who are with a client, they are taking the cars that they need. It is actually very similar to how the shared office spaces work.

Skip to 4 minutes and 13 secondsAnd that also works very well in case of the salespeople who are most of the time not in their offices. But when they are there, you just sit at the desk whichever is available and you have all the resources there. So most of the time, you need some processing power, then that is how much the system will provide you with. And as you need more, it will automatically increase. All this is done in an automatic way. So as your demand for more memory, more computing power, more whatever increases, it will automatically be assigned to you. So this is called automatic provisioning of the resources. Now, the tricky part is always how you pay for these kind of services.

Skip to 4 minutes and 54 secondsSo obviously, the logical thing is what they call pay as you go. So you pay for what you use. Of course, there is a huge trick in that because you might not notice, as everything is automatically provisioned, you might not notice that you started using more and more and more. And that means that occasionally if you don't pay attention, you can end up paying a lot, a lot of money.

Skip to 5 minutes and 17 secondsHowever, if you think in terms of cars again, when it is worth buying a car, when it is worth renting a car, when it is worth going by taxi, and I have a colleague specialised in finance who calculated that everything included on long term, it pays off in most cities to use a taxi instead of buying a car. There is a huge flexibility of how much and what you use. And the question is about the flexibility of the payments. Of course, those who are providing you with these services, they also very often like fixed income. And that's why there are these monthly fixed rates that include something. And if you go above that, then you pay extras.

Skip to 6 minutes and 3 secondsIt is very, very similar to what you have with your mobile phone contract so that X number of minutes and text messages and data services is included. And as long as you are within that, you pay the monthly fee. If you go beyond that, then you pay some extras. And that seems to be working also very well for others. Now, of course, it makes a huge difference what is it that you are renting in terms of IT services, but that is something for the next video.

What is a cloud?

Cloud computing is perhaps the most popular IS/ICT term nowadays. Surprisingly however, few people know what it means exactly. However, this is actually a great example of the success of a powerful metaphor: people intuitively grasp the essence of cloud computing from the name – I have never really seen anyone who was surprised by the exact description.

So here is the official definition from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

What is important for us is that you get what you want and when you need it, you don’t need expertise in managing your IS/ICT and you don’t really know where your stuff is.

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This video is from the free online course:

Understanding Information and Technology Today

University of Strathclyde