Coining the Cloud: An Assessment of Cloud Computing’s Shifty Definition

Coining the Cloud: An Assessment of Cloud Computing’s Shifty Definition

As with any burgeoning technology, cloud computing remains in flux in terms of its definition. Cloud steadily rises in popularity and familiarity with both tech nuts and the general public, thanks to an increase in advertising and more widely distributed education on just how useful it proves for a variety of sectors: major conglomerates, small businesses, enterprising individuals, and casual genre devotees.

Yet despite the uptick in cloud’s presence, the cloud community has yet to agree in consensus on its best denotation. Dictionary.com provides a serviceable and fairly clear explanation about what the term “cloud computing” entails: “Internet-based computing in which large groups of remote servers are networked so as to allow sharing of data-processing tasks, centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources.”

Yet Merriam Webster’s dictionary currently pegs cloud as: ” The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary.”

Indeed, the most trusted word volume has yet to recognize cloud computing as an official technology, or an official anything.

It would appear as though one of cloud computing’s own resident experts stands in firm agreement with the well-known definition tome. PCWorld’s David Linthicum has essentially declared outright war against any semblance of a definition for cloud. “These days, when somebody wants me to define ‘cloud computing,’ I fight the urge to eject them from the conference room,” he rages.

The National Institutes of Standards and Technology, arguably a major force in technology whose acceptance institutionalizes new concepts, provides a definition that also dissatisfies Linthicum, probably as a direct result of NIST’s rep for institutionalization: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Linthicum and his rejection of attempts to pin down cloud. From what I can make out, such phrasing as “sharing of data-processing tasks” and “minimal management effort” fails to convey cloud’s propensity to inspire creativity and resourcefulness within a community — ideals that surpass cloud as strictly technology and redefine it as a synergistic medium.

As Linthicum states, “Perhaps the best definition is around how cloud computing, or whatever you want to call it, will redefine how we consider and use technology to make us better at doing whatever we do.

The key word there? “How,” not “what” or “who.” If anything, cloud computing (as it stands in 2012) channels and synthesizes creative and intellectual output so that it does more. There’s a reason why clouds float in the sky. Attempts at fencing them in, however romantic, inevitably prove futile. Nevertheless, defining is what we do as a species. We quantify so that we can better understand and utilize.

And so I put it to you, dear CloudTweaks reader. Odds are that you’re quite cloud proficient. I’d love to get your take on this: how would you define the cloud, version 2012?

By Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman is a freelance writer currently based in New York City. He's moved into writing about cloud computing from substantial work in culture and the arts. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at Stanford and has studied at Oxford and Cambridge.

0 Responses to Coining the Cloud: An Assessment of Cloud Computing’s Shifty Definition

  1. Quite simply, I like the definition, for Cloud Computing, to read – “Computer operating with the use of outsourced, centralized, software, allowing ubiquitous access to data”. Any finer than that and I expect that you will be changing the definition every 5 minutes. I usually refer to the software as “Satellite Software”.

Comics

At CloudTweaks, we're plugged into the cloud, the internet of things and all that the web has to offer. From wearable technology, to mobile computing, cloud computing and big data, CloudTweaks is your source for updates and news on the most innovative technology.

Popular

Top Viral Impact

Five Signs The Internet of Things Is About To Explode

Five Signs The Internet of Things Is About To Explode

The Internet of Things Is About To Explode By 2020, Gartner estimates that the Internet of Things (IoT) will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion worldwide. It’s an astoundingly large figure given that the sector barely existed three years ago. We are now rapidly evolving toward a world in which just about everything will become…

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us to Do Better The cloud has made our working lives easier, with everything from virtually unlimited email storage to access-from-anywhere enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It’s no wonder the 2013 cloud computing research IDG survey revealed at least 84 percent of the companies surveyed run at…

The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most

The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most

The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most Cloud computing is rapidly revolutionizing the way we do business. Instead of being a blurry buzzword, it has become a facet of everyday life. Most people may not quite understand how the cloud works, but electricity is quite difficult to fathom as well. Anyway, regardless of…

2014 Future Of Cloud Computing Survey Results

2014 Future Of Cloud Computing Survey Results

Engine Yard Joins North Bridge Venture Partners, Gigaom Research and Industry Collaborators to Unveil 2014 Future of Cloud Computing Survey Results SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – Jun 25, 2014) – Engine Yard, the leading cloud application management platform, today announced its role as a collaborator in releasing the results of the fourth annual Future of Cloud Computing Survey,…

Featured Sponsors

Moving From Email Into The Cloud

Moving From Email Into The Cloud

Mobile Collaboration In The Cloud Imagine that you, as a manager, are told by the powers that be that you have to find “efficiencies” within your department that will result in one million dollars of savings annually. You struggle with this. You send an email to everyone on your senior team. “Where can we save…

Sponsors

What Is A Hybrid Cloud?

What Is A Hybrid Cloud?

What Is A Hybrid Cloud? With the emergence of cloud-computing technology comes the addition of new terminology. The terms public cloud and private cloud are reasonably well understood. However, a hybrid cloud can mean different things to different people. Under The Engine Perhaps the best way to define or explain a hybrid cloud is to…

Placement Opportunities - Find Out!

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading influencers in cloud computing, big data and internet of things (IoT) information. Our goal is to continue to build our growing information portal, by providing the best in-depth articles, interviews, event listings, whitepapers, infographics and much more.

You can help continue to support our community by social sharing, sponsoring, partnering or contributing to this great educational resource.

Contact

CloudTweaks Media
Phone: 1 (212) 763-0021

Join Our Newsletter