The Language of Clouds

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Clouds, clouds, everywhere the clouds.

Last month (March 15 to 18), the “Cloud Connect” conference, in Santa Clara, Calif., with 32 vendors and intense discussion; everywhere else you look, nearly daily mention of “cloud computing,” “cloudonomics,” even “leveraged cloudbursting.”

And that’s just the creative, cumulus prose one can gather about something as writer-friendly as a cloud.

Why should you care? Because clouds are big business, and if you work in an industry of networks - backbone, metro, hybrid fiber coaxial, access, you name it - you’re in the cloud already. The opportunities lurk in the assortment of linkages that could happen, which have nothing to do with asking consumers for more money.

“Cloud” is enterprise computing, over giant networks. “Managed hosting” is a close cousin. This week’s translation is a roundup of cloud lingo and current events - because there’s a lot going on in the cloud.

Know going in that the tech-talk is dense. Here’s a sampling: IaaS, SaaS and PaaS. To “virtualize.” Rackspace v. Amazon. Cloud sprawl, cloud fraud.

Let’s start with the “as a service” bunch. “IaaS” stands for “Infrastructure as a Service.” The “S” and the “P” stand for “Service” and “Platform,” respectively. They’re all about finding ways to make your infrastructure, services and platforms capable of doing IT gymnastics that are useful to people standing out there in the sunshine, wishing for

cloud cover.

“Virtualization” is big in cloud talk. Here’s an example sentence: “They could’ve shifted their technology approach to embrace a primarily virtualization-based implementation, and led the charge into enterprise cloud.”

Amazon.com sells a “Virtual Private Cloud” service, which also goes by “VPN,” where the “N” is for Network.

Indeed, Amazon sits on the top of the cloud world, with Rackspace.com as a close second. Both sell ways for companies to securely outsource their IT functions onto someone else’s network. Other players: Kontiki, Heroku, EngineYard, and a quickly growing list of others.

The big thing in clouds this year, according to the people who watch them (try CloudPundit.com and JackofallClouds.com, both excellent sources of context and detail): cloud fraud, and cloud provider sprawl. “Now, you can more or less count the big ones,” said the jack of all clouds (Guy Rosen), in a recent Webcast. “This year, everyone’s going to be a cloud.”

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