When I need to explain to non technical audience what the cloud is all about and what are the main business benefits that cloud provides, I prefer to use the following figure from Simon Wardley’s article “A Lifecycle Approach to Cloud Computing“. Well actually I’m using the life cycle diagram from his brilliant paper as a base and have augmented it with my vision of the cloud :
Cloud computing is the ability to provide compute, storage, networking, platform or software as a utility service (the same as electricity, gas or telephony).
Obviously cloud computing benefits are similar to utility service benefits, the customers have full control when and how much they are going to consume and is paying per usage of resources. Moving from commodity to utility service also enables us to create new business paradigms, which are much more beneficial.
I augment Simon’s diagram with several computer products to help non technical audience understand how a product evolves into a commodity. I also added outsourcing as an evolving service. The main reason (from my point of view) is to explain that cloud computing is a better stage in IT evolution and therefore IT should shift away from traditional outsourcing and instead use cloud computing while in-sourcing the needed IT functionality.