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I'm reading around to understand cloud computing, and I saw 2 comments that prompted this question:

"Cloud" is a marketing term. The actual implementation is what really matters. If you can get detailed info on the architecture of the service provider's cloud you will be able to see who is simply selling you a VPS (such as rackspacecloud) and who is selling you a different implementation that might include failover capabilities as well as other features.

and this comment

For me, cloud hosting would be: if I need any additional horsepower at any given time, the cloud would automatically stack more VPS and then charge me at the end of the month for the surplus of resources. Reading Rackspace's info, it looks like it's for me to decide when to stack more CS and that its Cloud Servers don't AUTOMATICLY scale up.

So my question is: what are these specs that I should look for that would identify a true cloud host that would let the service scale up and expand in the way the first comment describes it. Basically, when I sign up, what features should I look for to know that I'm really dealing with cloud hosting?

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What is more import, that you get someone which fits into the term "cloud hosting", or something that provides the functionality you need? –  andol Jul 24 '10 at 8:52
    
You're right, what's important is whether they offer me the functionality I need, which as I said in the question is the automated scaling up and expansion that true cloud hosting offers. My question was: how do I identify from the host's specs that they're selling me true cloud hosting? How do I know that they're selling me what I need? What clues should I be looking for? because some companies sell you stuff that they claim is cloud hosting, but it's just VPS. But without knowing what clues to look for, you can't really tell the 2 apart. –  damian Jul 24 '10 at 9:13
    
When in doubt, ask them how they operate and under this or that condition and tell them to update their site with this info. –  Sven Jul 24 '10 at 9:34
    
@SvenW, Problem is many companies say they're selling cloud hosting when they're really selling VPS. Rackspace seems to be one of these according to some opinions I read here, but I guess the guy who made that conclusion knew how to tell the 2 apart. –  damian Jul 24 '10 at 9:44

1 Answer 1

OK, this was asked a while ago, but I'll chime in nevertheless.

There is no 'formal' definition of cloud computing. It's a made-up business word. As such nobody is really in a position to claim rights to define it right now.

To me, Cloud Computing is a super-set of VPS hosting. Cloud delivers more value than VPS alone by having additional attributes:

  • Cloud implies near-infinite capacity availability. If you need 1,000 extra server instances within one hour, you will get them. Linode is a great VPS provider, but they can't help you with this.

  • Cloud implies that there are network-level services to help manage a fleet of servers. F.x. load balancing, monitoring, possibly auto-scaling.

  • Cloud implies that there is one or more extremely scalable storage API's available. First look at the CAP theorem -- Cloud providers should have massively scalable storage API's like BigTable, SimpleDB, S3 etc.

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