I must hear the word Cloud Computing 20 times a day. I hear it on NPR and TV. And there’s unending chatter about it in the blogosphere. Last month Rackspace co-founder Pat Condon and I were having lunch with a Rackspace customer who is a tech guru in his own right. He put his hands in the air, shook them near his head and said “woo! cloud computing!! There’s so much talk about cloud computing. What the heck does that mean?”

Even the most computer savvy can’t define it, yet there is no topic in America that’s has more buzz right now (…..except for Barack Obama, or the economy, perhaps. I would have to look at the numbers to know for sure.) There is no doubt that there is a lot of CLOUD CONFUSION in the world today. But, what exactly is cloud computing? I will tell you…..listen closely.

Cloud computing is simply computing delivered over the Web. That’s it. Simple and easy to understand. But it’s a very powerful idea whose time has come. Its like a tsunami that’s been gathering momentum for 24 months and has come ashore right now.  This wave is carrying the force of an atom bomb and it will dramatically change the landscape of computing on every continent.

Why? Its a cheaper AND better way to buy computing power. Really. Seldom do these two qualities go together but when they do, things can change in a big way.

History has seen this many times before.  For example, years ago our great-grandparents burned wood and coal to generate energy for their homes.  Today, few of us generate our own power. Instead, we buy it from power companies. These companies generate and distribute electricity from massive centralized power plants that can cost over $1bl to build. Once created, the power travels at the speed of light over the power grid to your home. Cloud computing works the same way, but it comes from companies like Rackspace instead.  And, the “power” is the power of computing, generated on servers running in huge scale data centers scattered around the country somewhere (it doesn’t matter where, really). The computing power is delivered to your home over a network of fiber optic cables we call the “Internet” or the “Web”. When computing is done centrally and on this scale the cost goes down, naturally. Recently I spoke with a Fortune 500 Rackspce customer who expects to cut IT costs 85% with Rackspace’s cloud computing.  WOW!!!!  That’s certainly cheaper, and it’s better because there is zero capital cost to the customer.  And because our cloud computing system is automatically CDN-enabled. And because Rackspace works 24/7 to keep their applications running and care for our customers.  This powerful combination of benefits packs the power of an atom bomb!

Just like any major technology category, cloud computing will continue to evolve. And along the way, computing will change in form. It will move out of the server closets of small businesses and the data centers of large ones. These rooms will be empty because computing power will be bought from Rackspace and other cloud computing providers.  This proposition will be so compelling, cloud computing will become not just a way to buy computing power, but THE way of doing computing.

So, there it is. I hope I have helped reduce your cloud confusion a little.  Even now, as I write this blog, Rackspace is delivering cloud computing from 45,000 servers for over 50,000 customers. Over one million people will wake up tomorrow and check their email quietly delivered to them from Rackspace’s cloud computing system. This blog is also delivered to you by Rackspace’s cloud.

Rackspace’s exists to help IT departments do their jobs better AND cheaper. We are a tool for them and we will work tirelessly to earn their trust as collaborators and partners. We will help our friends in the IT department become heroes by helping them drastically cut their employer’s computing costs.

Stay tuned.

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