No one can easily define it.
But the next phase of the computer revolution is busy being born out of the ashes of the current economic crisis. The new approach delivers computing power as a service over the Web, like an electric utility, instead of making customers buy computers they manage themselves.
It goes by the hazy term of “cloud computing.”
Forget your tidy distinctions between hardware and software, networking and storage, the Web and the desktop. Most disappear as they merge into the cloud.
Clouds are located in centralized data centers that can house thousands of pizza-sized boxes, networked computers that can each process millions of transactions. They take advantage of the latest software that go by buzzwords like Web 2.0, virtualization and open source.
Always in search of the next big idea, the technology industry has latched onto the cloud as its big new organizing principle, once more normal corporate spending patterns return.