Ran across an interesting video where Larry Ellison rants about the use of the term “cloud computing”. To some extent, I agree with him, insofar as “cloud computing” is a rather vague, all-encompassing statement.
It is also true that companies such as salesforce.com and others have been offering their services for quite some time, and are lumped in when most folks talk about cloud computing.
However, where I perhaps disagree with Mr. Ellison (FWIW) is that cloud computing doesn’t describe anything new at all. I think the relatively new element that cloud computing describes is the use of virtualized systems that allow for the use of hardware infrastructure over many disparate computers (or other devices) in a seamless and scalable manner.
Thus, for example, while salesforce.com may have been around for a decade, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and other infrastructure service providers, as well as the type of technology that enables them (e.g. vSphere) are relatively new. Sure, there were always shared servers available, but until recently, I don`t know of anyone who, as a service provider, offered highly reliable and very scalable virtual private servers on levels exceeding what could be offered in a single box. If you wanted something like that, then the only thing that would be available were separate discrete boxes, proprietary clustering systems, or open source cluster systems (like Beowulf).
For SaaS, frankly it doesn`t really matter all that much – who cares how salesforce.com manages its back-end, so long as its customer are able to access its functionality.