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Cloud Computing Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction

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Ever since my childhood I had a fascination with clouds. Real clouds up in the sky, white and fluffy or gray and gloomy, afforded an ever-present drama unfolding above for the curious spectator looking toward the heavens, as inquisitive children are wont to do. Maybe it was because of ample exposure to the perennial cloudiness of my native West Denmark with its rich variety and texture across seasons, but I always found clouds to be mysterious and captivating.

Today my interest is intact, although the clouds I study are no longer up in the sky but somewhere in cyberspace, even if following them doesn’t afford the same ever-present drama. This book is about understanding the language and logic of cloud computing, what technologies are available and the nature of the vendors who supply them, and how the economy and security of the cloud and working with it impacts an organization. It is an attempt to explain and describe the basics for interested readers with little or no technical background to get an overview of what the cloud is and be able to participate in intelligent discussions about how to use it.

My own way into cloud computing has followed an uneven path. By the mid to end 2000s, the cloud was emerging as an interesting new technology. I was working as an enterprise architect and started to look into what this new thing had to offer. The cloud caught on as the go-to marketing buzzword and quickly it assumed a meaning equivalent to fairy dust, which when sprinkled on any technological solution, would magically transform it and make it better in all discernible ways.

A few years later I founded my own startup, which delivered a Software as a Service (SaaS) product built entirely on cloud infrastructure, which demonstrated to me the power of the cloud. No need to buy servers and rent rooms to set them up and run them. This was the first proof for me that although the cloud was not quite fairy dust, it was definitely the future. Even if it wasn’t decidedly easy, it was not as hard as just a few years earlier to build a company from scratch entirely in the cloud.
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