Finally, "The Cloud" Means Something

Few jargonistic terms have annoyed me as much as, "The Cloud." When the term was first coined, its meaning was ambiguous at best. For some companies, it meant shared web hosting (but with a cooler sounding name). For others it was simply, "let us host your servers in our datacenter, which we now refer to as a cloud."

Then, finally, the concept started to solidify into offering specific services or entire software applications as a commodity removed from the server infrastructure. Honestly, I think that was the intent from the beginning, but it took several years before anyone really implemented anything useful in, "the cloud."

Software as a service (SaaS) is arguably the largest implementation of the "cloud" ideology. I had never really heard of "Platform as a Service" (PaaS) before reading up on the upcoming IBM webinar here at Linux Journal. (Full disclosure: I'm sure there is a financial partnership of some sort involved with the webinar. I don't know those details, I'm writing because I found it interesting!)

In my DayJob situation, I need to deploy a Java based application for our intranet. Since we don't have a Java application server environment, the biggest chore for me is figuring out what application server, or what servlet container to implement. Then I have to configure it, maintain it, and keep it updated with both Java itself and the web server components. That's where PaaS comes in. Instead of buying a software package as a service (SaaS), PaaS allows me to deploy whatever Java applications I want onto a fully installed, maintained, and updated Java application server.

The PaaS concept piqued my interest, and perhaps it piques yours. At the very least it gives more meat to the concept of "cloud computing", which is always a good thing. Oh, and for the record? Shared web hosting was cloud computing long before it was cool, just saying.

NOTE FROM WEBMISTRESS: The webinar Shawn referred to is HERE, and it's coming up soon!

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

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