I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, cloud computing can be a difficult topic to get your head around. As I’m still new to the world of cloud, I’m always on the lookout for simpler ways to understand the cloud.

I recently came across a post where the writer compared cloud computing to having a meal at a restaurant. This really struck a chord with me. The simple comparison explained cloud in a whole new way. I felt like I’d just cracked the code of cloud. I hadn’t, but I knew that this was a comparison that most people could relate to. Here’s my interpretation of the comparison:

Consider cloud computing is similar to having a meal at a restaurant and the traditional data centre is like eating at home. Cloud vendors, like restaurants, take care of everything. All your storage, development and software needs are managed by the vendors, just like all the preparing, cooking, and cleaning is done by the restaurant. As a cloud consumer, all you have to do is focus on how you’ll use the cloud solution and achieve your desired outcome. As a restaurant customer, all you have to focus on is eating the food put in front of you.

This comparison makes cloud computing seem so easy. But what I liked the most about it is how well it fits in the culture here at Buttonwood. Everyone at Buttonwood loves food, especially burgers. We even have a tradition known as “Burger Friday”, where every Friday the Buttonwood team goes out for burgers at one of Canberra’s many burger joints. It was Buttonwood Burger Friday’s that inspired me to write this post.

The above comparison is simple enough for people to understand, but I don’t just want to leave it there… I want to dive into the core principles of cloud computing to understand just how deep the comparison goes.

Principle 1: Get what you need, when you need it

Cloud computing, like eating in a restaurant, is all about having the on-demand service, getting the resources you want, when you want them. When you go to a restaurant you get the one thing you want – food! You don’t have to worry about how it’s going to get there, you just know that very soon you will be eating delicious burger. While you probably won’t get the burger immediately, you will get it faster than if you were going to make it at home. To me that seems like the benefit of eating out.

Cloud computing is also available on demand. The IT department can spin up new environments and resources as they are needed, without having to worry about waiting too long. It usually takes a few minutes, or maybe even a few hours for the cloud environment to be set up, it is much quicker than setting up an on-premise data centre. And once it has been spun up, the end user only has to worry about consuming the cloud resources.

Principle 2: Be prepared for unexpected additions

Have you ever had an unexpected guest for dinner, and not had enough food for them? You could always go to the supermarket to get more ingredients, or even buy more ingredients to start with. However, buying more than you need can lead to wasting resources, and taking a second trip to the grocery store is not time effective. On the other hand, having an extra person show up in a restaurant would not cost you extra time or money, and they can easily be catered for.

Eating at home is comparable to having an on-premise data centre, where you lack agility and scalability. It is impossible to add new resources when they are needed because you have to build the new infrastructure which could take days or weeks. Cloud computing offers almost unlimited scalability capabilities. You can add and remove resources as you need them, reducing waste and ensuring your IT environment is cost effective. And the best part is that adding and removing infrastructure as necessary does not affect the rest of the cloud environment.

Principle 3: Choose what’s right for you

When eating at a restaurant there are always many options on the menu. And if you don’t like anything on the menu there are other restaurants to choose from. You decide what to eat based on your needs and requirements, as well as your budget. With a large range of restaurants, there will almost always be at least one that caters to your needs. After you have decided on your restaurant, you have another choice to make… what meal you are going to eat. After choosing your meal all you have to do is sit back and wait.

The process of migrating to the cloud is much the same. There are many cloud providers to choose from including AWS, Azure and Google. Each of these providers will suit different needs, requirements and budgets. The cloud consumers gets to decide what resources to consume from a where and for how long. You get to choose the one that’s best suited to your needs, and with so many options you will always find at least one that suits your needs and requirements. You wouldn’t keep eating at the same restaurant if the stopped meeting your needs, so why keep using the same cloud provider? With solutions like Buttonwood, you avoid vendor lock-in, and can change your provider as your needs change.

Principle 4: Sit back and relax

How many times have you gone to a restaurant and had to prepare your own food? None, I hope. When you go out to eat, you are paying somebody else to prepare and cook the food you want to consume. You don’t have to worry about doing any of the preparation, and someone else is there to clean up. If there is a problem there is someone else there to fix it for you.

That same principle applies to cloud. When you migrate to cloud computing you are paying someone else to look after your data. You are giving someone else the responsibility to prepare and manage your IT environment, and if something goes wrong, the cloud provider will be there to fix it for you.

I’m sure there are many comparisons you can make for cloud computing. I really liked this one because I, and I’m sure many other, can relate to it. With comparisons like this cloud is not as daunting as it may seem. Now I have a better understanding of cloud computing, and I hope that you do to. If you have any cool cloud comparisons, send them through, I would love to hear them.