By now you must have heard several people including Microsoft talk about ‘Taking it to the cloud’, well for a non technical person, what does this really mean?

‘The Cloud’ is a concept being used to describe many different types of services offered by big name providers like Apple, Rack Space and Amazon (yup the guys that sell stuff on the net). These services range from things like Apple iCloud, a space to store your stuff and sync your devices, to complex web, database and application servers.

So if you are wondering what all the fuss is about, perhaps I can explain.

In the the distant past (time moves very fast on the web), it was a difficult and expensive task to have a Web server setup for your requirements as a software developer or even as a high traffic website. Amazon changed all of this in August of 2006 when they introduced their EC2 offering.

Software Developers (and even normal people) can now configure a reliable setup and use them to do all sorts of things. It is still not cheap, but its nowhere near as expensive as buying physical hardware, and what can be done is truly a ‘popcorn event’ in my mind. It also doesn’t matter where in the world you are. I’m on a tiny island in the Caribbean.

Ever been introduced to a concept that just seems to take root in your mind and suddenly seems to set off other ideas ? This phenomenon has been described to me as a very aptly named ‘popcorn event’ and I quite like the term.

Its now possible to create a private network of two, ten or two hundred computers instantly available to do your bidding. If you have lots of data to crunch, this can give you the ability to accomplish a task that would take ten days to perform in one or two. Its really a Time Machine, of sorts.

When you’re done doing what you needed, you turn off these virtual computers and don’t have to pay for them when you are not using them.

If you are curious about getting started with cloud computing check out whats available at Amazon Web Services Management Console