Friday, December 5, 2008

The Difference Between Cloud & Utility Computing

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that cloud computing is not the same as utility computing. I have received a few emails asking me for futher explanation. Apparently it isn't as obvious as I thought...

Think of utility computing as the infrastructure and cloud computing as the services provided. Now that you are completely confused, let me break it down further.

Utility computing is about providing access to heavy duty machines. It is infrastructure provisioning by leasing you access to computer processing power (pure number crunching) or storage (hard drive space). Under a utility computing framework you are only getting access to the hardware capacity and nothing more. Because you are not using 100% of the equipment capacity, you will only pay for the fraction you use. This allows you to control your costs and avoid capital expenditures on hardware that will be obsolete in a few years.

Cloud computing is software sold as a service. You buy the software services you and your employees need from an online vendor. This vendor promises to provide you access to the software and your information for a set monthly fee. This allows you to control your costs and avoid capital expenditures on software that will be obsolete in a few years.

Cloud computing requires utility computing since it cannot exist without it. However, they are still different concepts. While I realize this is splitting hairs, it is important to understand the distinction. Purchasing cloud services gives you access to web-based software that allows you true business mobility. Purchasing utility computing services provides you with access to equipment capacity without having to buy the hardware.

I hope that clears things up...

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