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The Plumbing of Cloud Computing

Over the past several years, the conversation about cloud computing inevitably comes back to the technology and connections between systems. It includes the systems, storage, network and interconnection components that make up the cloud environment. In essence, the ‘plumbing’ of cloud computing.

If we use the analogy of plumbers and water systems to cloud computing, the pictures becomes a bit clearer. The pipes and water systems that carry the water from the reservoirs that store, carry and deliver the water to homes and businesses are analogous to data centers, systems, storage and networking solutions.

The water itself with its quality, temperature, mineral content and such are analogous to the applications and services that leverage cloud computing as their delivery mechanism.

Do users care about the pipes that carry the water? No. They care about the quality and attributes of the water.

The users who benefit from the applications and services delivered via cloud computing care little about this plumbing. Why? They’re far removed from how the applications and services relate to the individual nuances between solutions.

There are those that believe users should understand more about the underlying technology. That’s like saying that a consumer of water should understand the differences between a 45 degree bend, nipple, pressure regulator and the rest. The consumer doesn’t want or need to know the differences. There are specialists that understand what the consumer wants and knows how to deliver it. They don’t burden the consumer with having to understand the backend.

Even with cloud computing there is a concept of service providers. Sure, the water systems that we plug our homes and businesses into are service providers. In the water industry, it includes those that deliver bottled water to our homes and businesses. Turn on the service when we need it, turn it off when we don’t. Vary the volume, number of instances and locations we want the service to best meet the consumer’s demand. But that doesn’t mean that the consumer has to understand how the water got from the ground (in the case of spring water) and into the bottle sitting in their home/ business.

The bottom line is that we need to separate the different roles focus on the end product. In the case of water, it’s the quality and attributes of the water. In the case of cloud computing, it’s the applications and services that the consumer accesses. Leave the plumbing details behind the scenes to the experts in their field and don’t confuse the roles.

Thanks to Tom Lounibos (@lounibos) and Jake Kaldenbaugh (@jakewk) for the inspiration for this post.