I heard a great definition for three types of cloud at a Symantec conference late last year.
Public Cloud – Resources you utilize via the internet which you do not own
Private Cloud – Resources you utilize via the internet which you do own
Hybrid Cloud – A mixture of the previous two clouds
The average user does not realize it, but although this buzzword is rather new, cloud technology has been in use for more than two decades. In the days of dial-up modems and DOS, we leveraged the power of systems we did not have a direct connection to via the internet in order to get stuff done. Early internet users were posting to bulletin boards, leasing processing time on mainframes, and searching library records. Although connection speeds have increased, as well as the variety of resources out there we have to pull data from, the average user utilizes resources for which the backbone was laid years ago.
As a teenager in the nineties, I can remember how fast AOL, Compuserver, Prodigy, and some lesser-known ISPs were rapidly gaining acceptance in mainstream life. This was quickly followed by the rapid growth of free email services such as Hotmail, Rocketmail, Yahoo; and search engines such as Infoseek, Yahoo, Lycos, and the like.
The landscape has changed rapidly over the years. The smaller dogs have either gone out of business or been swallowed up by the big dogs. Today, the big players are Microsoft, Google, AOL, Facebook, Dell, and HP. But the game remains the same. Home users and business pros alike need to be able to leverage emerging technologies in order to make their lives and work easier and more efficient.
The bottom line in all of this is this: Don't get overwhelmed by the cloud. Pundits and Experts LOVE to confuse people with their brilliance. The truth is cloud is not new, is not going anywhere, and is a really simple concept. It is STUFF on the internet that you either own, or do not own. Period.
Please read "A Passion For Research" blog article on Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2012 [Cloud Adoption by Business]: