May 25, 2022

VP of Product Marketing

Why the Cloud Doesn’t Matter

… and what does this have to do with the NYC subway system?

Cloud technology services look like they’ve always been around. But did you ever stop to think where the term comes from? Why do AWS, GCP, Azure and other service providers market their services as “cloud”?

Why the Cloud Doesn’t Matter

Where does ‘cloud’ come from?

Multiple theories abound, but my take is that the name comes from our (i.e. technical people) laziness. To be specific, engineers have a habit of standing by a whiteboard, drawing in detail what they want to talk about, and completing the drawing with a generic shape that represents everything that “does not matter” – sort of in the shape of a cloud.

Ring a bell?

It looks something like this:

You have clients on one side, a server on the other, and the two connect.

How do they connect? Based on the drawing, it does not really matter. They connect to something, that connects to something, that aggregates to something, that backhauls to something, that connects to the server. We can draw all of these somethings, but that would just clutter our drawing, hurt our wrist, and complicate our discussion. So, we simply draw a cloud, and the viewer knows it connects somehow; the way it connects just does not matter. At least for the sake of the discussion.

Clouds are pools of shared resources

This is the idea with today’s public (as well as private and hybrid) clouds. They do not matter. Clouds are simply great pools of resources, specifically compute and storage (and networking, in the case of the network cloud). They are here to serve, and you, the customer, do not care where they are located, what technology they are built on, and what underlying architecture they deploy. All you care about is running your application (or network function, in the case of the Network Cloud) with good performance and availability. When you think about it, it makes life much simpler.

Just like the subway

In many cases, it’s kind of like the NYC subway system.

How so? When you want to go from Times Square to Central Park, you can walk, drive/ride-share, take a bus, or grab a subway.

If you walk, you need to think about the weather and how much time you have.

If you drive, you need to think about traffic and parking.

If you take a bus, you need to think about traffic and other things.

But if you take the subway, all you have to do is walk into a compartment at one end and walk out of it at the other end, landing you just opposite of Central Park. You don’t care what happened on the street level above during the ride. Just like you don’t care about what happens in the cloud when you run an app.

That’s why the cloud does not matter.

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