Tech Industry Falls for 'Cloud Computing'

It's all the rage, but does the fuzzy term really mean anything?
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2009 8:40 AM CDT
A meeting in Madrid sponsored by Google focused on 'cloud computing,' and featured the expected image behind the panel.   (©edans)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Today's hottest tech term is "cloud computing": Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Intel have all begun projects with such nebulous names as OpenCirrus and Elastic Compute Cloud. But while the projects behind the names all have something in common—storing data on far-off computers—nobody can agree on what cloud computing really is, writes the Wall Street Journal. "I have no idea what anyone is talking about. When is this idiocy going to stop?" said the CEO of Oracle.

Broadly, cloud computing is supposed to rely on users keeping data off-site—"in the clouds"—instead of on hard disks, and Merrill Lynch estimates that cloud computing revenues will reach $160 billion by 2011. But as techies flock to conventions with white puffy jackets and cumulonimbus balloons, some suspect that the term has become a catchall as meaningless as "cyberspace." "The problem isn't so much the term," said one historian, "but the extended usage of it to subsume other things."