Cloud Computing Hits Mainstream Press

Every once in a while, a buzzword comes along in the tech industry with enough momentum to bubble up to the mainstream and become a marketing term. We’ve clearly now hit that point with “cloud computing”, of which an article on it appeared in today’s 24 Hours Vancouver paper. Fortunately, it was written by the technically competent Buzz Bishop, interviewing walking social network Boris Mann.

Computer Science/Engineering students have grown with the idea of the Internet as a cloud, as commonly depicted in textbook flowcharts. Cloud computing modifies this metaphor slightly, referring to virtual machine or distributed services where you’re interacting with the service, a cluster of machines, as opposed to one particular server. Apple’s MobileMe service (formerly .Mac) openly embraces the concept and brings it further mainstream, with a logo that centers around a cloud.

This weekend, Amazon S3, one of the top cloud storage services, experienced an eight hour downtime that impacted many web apps that depend on the service. While cloud services are proving themselves as the most efficent and cost effective way to host modern web applications, these spots of downtime show that just like Ajax and Web 2.0, the cloud isn’t magic.