My definition of a cloud

What is it? What can it offer me? How do I make use of it?
All these questions are relevant when you are looking into “cloud”. But to get back to the first question.. what is “cloud”?
There are a bunch of definitions out there that would define a cloud, there are even separate definitions for a private and public cloud.
I asked myself how hard it can be to think of a single definition, and one everyone could agree on. Microsoft, Google, Citrix, VMware and even Apple have tried to do it and none of them had a definition everyone could agree on.

One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein: “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them”.
That doesn’t necessarily mean we need to think beyond the level of thinking that exists today (as he did), since that is how most people would read this quote.
What if we would take the level of thinking from about 100-400 years ago. Back then things were “simple” and most people didn’t feel the urge to think beyond the current level of thinking… yet, that time brought us the most famous architects, scientists, poets and philosophers of our history!

So, let’s give it a go, shall we?

To define a cloud, we would first need to know what if can offer, what sorts there are and how it is offered to end-users.
A “cloud” solution offers us a higher level of availability.
A “cloud” solution is accessible from any location through an internet connection.
A “cloud” solution can be on-premise, off-premise or a combination of the two also known as hybrid.
A “cloud” solution can be in a private or public cloud.

All together now (aka the definition)
A private or public service, offered off- or on-premise with a higher level of availability which can be accessed through the internet from any device and location.


  1. Wisse vd Mee says:

    I like your explanation of a cloud, even a recovering ITaholic like myself can understand this definition :), but you have not answered question 2 and 3.
    -What can it offer me?
    -How do I make use of it?
    time to blog, buddy….

  2. Jeff Wouters says:

    Hi Wisse,
    Although they are valid questions to ask when you’re concidering a cloud solution, they are not required for the definition… but you make a valid point and given me thoughts for a second post, thanks!

  3. small typo: should say “what it can offer”, not “that it can offer”

  4. Also not sure if a cloud should be defined as accessible trough what most of us call the Internet necesserily. You’d expect a military cloud for example to not be accessible via the Internet

  5. Jeff Wouters says:

    Hi George,
    Changed the typo, thanks!
    Some time ago a fellow Dutch IT Pro was speaking at an event where he made the remark “if you can’t connect to it through the internet, don’t call it a cloud”. At first I disagreed with him, but when you come to think of it just about ALL digital communication today goes over the internet. Secured by certificates, encryption and tunneling… but still over the internet. That’s why I wrote “over the internet” instead of “over a network connection”.
    Of course I’m not thinking about private satelites 😉
    Or do you have another reasoning I haven’t thought of yet?

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