Cloud computing has been around for more than 9 years, but it was 2006 when Amazon popularized the term with the introduction of "Elastic Cloud Computing". This makes cloud computing mature and established technology – because as we all know 9 years in real life is like 1001 in techie years.
That makes the question of "to use the cloud or not?" more and more dated every month. However, even to this day there are many misconceptions and a fair degree of uncertainty surrounding the whole issue. The ones I hear all the time are: "Is it secure?", "How do I get access to my data?", "Is it compliant with regulations?" These are all great questions and as the technology has matured the answers to these questions have been evolving.
An example of the evolution of cloud computing, is that the services offered by Microsoft, Google or Amazon, the big three cloud providers, continue to be better, faster and cheaper. Most recently the costs have dropped to the point where it's not possible to have a reasonable "in-house" configuration that's comparable and competitive to what the cloud providers are offering. These recent changes make the cloud related questions even more relevant than ever.
So, what is the cloud? This is a question that doesn't have a simple answer that everyone can agree on, but is clearly a question that needs to be answered before we see mature businesses and industries shift to the cloud infrastructure. So, rather than focusing on a complex and unavoidably techie answer, I think it's better to answer the question with an analogy.
The best analogy that I recently heard was comparing cloud computing to the industrial revolution. I couldn't agree more. Just like the industrial revolution, cloud computing is many different things to many different businesses and individuals, but overall it's a powerful force of change that is enabling many technology start-ups to grow at astronomical rates. The best and most well-known example is Netflix whose entire infrastructure is running on Amazon's cloud services. Last year Netflix did $5.5B in revenue and reached a truly amazing milestone of over $1M in revenue per employee. The same infrastructure they use is at the disposal of any start-up in the world for less than a cost of a new laptop per month. How awesome is that?
So why wouldn't we all use cloud computing? Depending who we talk to there are different objections, questions and concerns that are raised. As it turns out, all of them can be grouped into two main objections: