Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Most people think they have a pretty good idea what “cloud computing” is. From Flickr to Google Calendar, it seems we all make use of the cloud in one way or another.

But researchers at the University of California, Berkeley felt that the meaning of the term “cloud computing,” could be clarified.

So, in an effort to define cloud computing and identify the challenges and opportunities it presents, they have posted a white paper, a presentation, and a YouTube video on the topic. And on Thursday, Armando Fox, a professor at Berkeley, presented highlights from the summary, called Above the Clouds, at Berkeley’s annualElectrical Engineering and Computer Science Research Symposium.

In essence, Fox said, cloud computing is a utility that gives anyone the access to virtually unlimited, and variable amounts of, computing power on demand. This is to be distinguished, he said, from ideas that have existed for many years such as software-as-a-service, or using hosting services, or remote servers. What’s new about cloud computing according to Fox is that Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others have a working model that provides pay-as-you-go access to utility computing, essentially enabling a single person to design applications that can use thousands of computers at once. (See “The Digital Utility,” “Cheap Infrastructure,” and “Google’s Cloud Looms Large.)

There’s still quite of research to be done, Fox assured his colleagues. Some people and companies are reluctant to use a cloud service for fear that they’ll be locked into a service provider and won’t be able to move their application and data to another provider. This could be solved with standardization across the industry, Fox said. Additionally, people are sometimes hesitant to trust all their data with a single organization. Research needs to be done, he said, to determine the proper approach to privacy.

The report is summarized in a blog post from the Reliable Adaptive Distributed Systems Laboratory at Berkeley.

2 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Google, cloud computing, Amazon

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me