Cloud computing is not in a cloud

Posted by: on Sep 9, 2009 | No Comments

I have been dismayed recently at all the articles and blog posts I read these days that seem to indicate that we won’t need data centers anymore with Cloud Computing. That somehow Cloud Computing runs, well, in the cloud! Now I know you all are smarter than that. Right? You know that somewhere, someplace way back behind all those wonderful fluffy clouds are big huge datacenters with hundreds and thousands of servers.

Here in our little state of Oregon, Google has built a computing center “as big as two football fields”.

Google-the-dalles

and Amazon is building a 116,770 square-foot data center near Boardman.

When you use Google, Amazon, Yahoo or any number of SaaS applications such as Salesforce.com or Workday there are servers in a data center somewhere serving up the data and application logic. Now to be fair, some of the more sophisticated cloud computing companies have stitched together servers in data centers spread all over to provide you with true 27×7 access. The “cloud” provides virtual access to your data or application so that it can be spread across multiple data centers. In certain cases (such as Google) you probably don’t have any need to know how this works. For SaaS applications (such as Workday), it is a good idea to understand exactly where the data centers are located and how the application is load balanced, backed up and configured for disaster recovery.

But at the end of the day, there are still physical data centers behind all those fluffy clouds. But you knew that anyway.