Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Understanding Cloud Computing: What is It? - Part 1

As you probably know, in the world of technology marketing, terminology doesn’t just evolve, it seems to get turned on its head overnight, every night. One of the more recent changes in terminology was the introduction of the term, “Cloud Computing.”

This is the first of a four-part series on Cloud Computing.

IDC expects IT spending on cloud computing services to grow from $16 billion in 2008 to $42 billion by 2012, or 27% CAGR. Given the state of the economy, this prediction, alone, is worth some investigation. So what is cloud computing and why should you care about it (even if you aren't an IT professional)? What solutions are available for audience management, marketing, circulation, and fulfillment professionals?

If you have heard about cloud computing, it was probably in the context of companies like Amazon.com, Google, and Salesforce.com. Each of these companies is known for offering software solutions to consumers and businesses under a service-based deployment model. This means that the vendor both develops the software and manages the infrastructure to run it, offering customers lower up-front expenses, no capital investment, and the opportunity to scale expenses up or down, based on demand.

Amazon.com offers consumers broad online shopping experiences and other online retailers a service-based e-commerce platform. Google offers consumers and businesses a wide range of services including search, Web analytics, email, and productivity applications. Salesforce.com is best known for it's sales force automation and CRM services. These are all examples of a category of cloud computing solutions known as Software as a Service (SaaS, typically pronounced 'saas').

In fact, there are now a multitude of companies of all sizes that offer high-quality, Web 2.0 products as cloud-based services. I'll cover a few of those companies and products in part two of our series, Understanding Cloud Computing: Categories of Services - Part 2.

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