Explaining the Cloud


Recently, I was asked to put together some material which explains what “the cloud” is, for a mixed (technical/non-technical) C-level audience.  This came as more of a challenge than I had anticipated, and although there’s absolutely no shortage of material spruiking the benefits of the cloud(tm), there’s actually not that much that describes “the cloud” in layman’s terms.

Before I get to what I developed for this audience, I do want to stop and explain why this was a tough challenge.  The cloud encompasses so many options that, simply put – it’s hard to simplify what it represents in basic terms.  Think of the technical scope of hybrid, SaaS, PaaS and IoT models – so many, many options and different vendor models.

In the end, what I managed to boil it down to was the following basic sentence:

“The cloud represents an ability to deliver part or all of a business outcome not wholly 100% implemented on your own infrastructure”

This accommodates pretty much all of the different cloud variations, from the “your server in someone else’s data center” through to complete PaaS and SaaS offerings.  I decided to use the term “business outcome” rather than data, information or some other representation to focus more on a value statement in business terms, rather than the more practical implementation view we find in IT.

This was followed by a “Pizza as a Service” illustration, which contains no technical terms and uses a vehicle (objective is to eat pizza) which is fairly easy to understand.


About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified Enterprise Architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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