Those who live where it snows are all too familiar with the crazed weather forecasting phenomenon. Recently there were reports of 18-36” of snow where I live. Stores were emptied out, gas stations and lines, and everyone hunkered down for what turned out to be a dusting of snow followed by sunny days – no clouds at all. Why do weather forecasters do this? I’ve always assumed it was to generate increased amounts of viewership in order to sell more TV advertising. I wonder if the marketing for cloud computing operates in the same way.
For as long as I can remember, I have used a shared hosting site for my web projects. The company is called site5.com. As of this writing, they are offering web hosting with “unlimited web space, bandwidth, domains, email” for $4.95 per month, with a 30-day free trial. My account on site5.com is similar. I can run any kind of web site, web application, or database. I’ve been online with them for years.
My account access is on a shared Linux box. I can easily add more.
But would anyone call this cloud computing? Many probably would – many consider Hotmail and Salesforce.com to be cloud computing. Some probably wouldn’t – because I can’t auto-provision “instances” of a virtualized computer, and I can see (but not access) the other shared users on the same box.
The bottom line though, is that I can quickly provision a virtual server for my use. Suppliers have offered this service since the year 2000 and well before that.
So why all the hype about cloud computing? Why is it such a big deal that business can have access to shared hosting? Yes, modern virtualization and provisioning methods make for a much more robust server. Yes, billing can now truly be performed “per CPU cycle” turning the entire computing rental into a utility model.
But will this really make a difference for the majority of people who need shared hosting?
I don’t think so. I do think that a few new business models that have very spike-prone utilizaton rates such as data analytics and modeling could possibly have access to more CPU at a better cost. But shared hosting for small projects and businesses has been around forever – I don’t see cloud computing creating an entire new storm of IT demand.