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Cloud Computing vs Grid Computing

2008 seems to be a pivotal time where Cloud Computing surpassed Grid Computing (and continues to grow)

Michael Sheehan's GoGrid Blog

The Cloud just got another potential injection of PR from Apple as well with their announcement of MobileMe. Apple has brought a new technology term, the 'Cloud' - previously reserved for developers, IT managers and the like - to the main-stream public. We all know that the term 'Cloud Computing' is relatively new to the Technology buzz. But just how new is it?

I spent some time analyzing search trends of different computing keywords to try to put everything in perspective. Google trends is a nice too that gives insight into broad search patterns.

We all know that the term “Cloud Computing” is relatively new to the Technology buzz. But just how new is it? For starters, I ran a quick comparison of “Cloud Computing,” “Grid Computing” and “Utility Computing”.


The term Grid Computing has been around for a while (even before Google Trends tracking shows it). But as you can see from the graphic above, it is trending downwards. Utility Computing has pretty much remained below the radar in comparison. But, the newcomer Cloud Computing, which made its full entrance into this trend analysis around 2007 is rapidly gaining momentum. 2008 seems to be a pivotal time where it surpassed Grid Computing (and continues to grow).

Cloud computing is relatively new as a server hosting term. People are starting to loosely associate it with traditional hosted server solutions. So to put this all in perspective as well as add some other “hot” keywords in to the mix, I trended the following:

  • Cloud computing
  • Grid computing
  • Dedicated server
  • Colocation
  • Virtualization

The results were quite interesting:


My read on this is as follows:

  • Cloud Computing and Virtualization are the next hot hosting platforms. It is important to keep in mind that the term “Virtualization” can apply to many things, not simply hosting, in fact, Virtualization within the hosting environment is comparable to Cloud Computing. Virtualization has existed for some time, but mainly within a host’s computer (e.g., a desktop). But as Parallels, VMWare, Xen and even Microsoft’s Hyper-V gain momentum as virtualized servers within a hosted environment, this term will continue to grow. See the chart below for further details (VMware is the clear leader but Hyper-V is clearly going to gain market-share quickly).

  • The Dedicated server term is slowly starting to lose ground vs. Virtualization and Cloud Computing, but it is fairly obvious that it is still a term that people know and look for. There are always developers or companies who will ONLY go with a dedicated server for one reason or another. I predict, though, that as they start getting on the virtualization and cloud bandwagons, that this term will continue to erode. Another term “VPS” (Virtual Private Server) is fairly common among hosting solutions but differs from Virtualization in many ways. With a VPS, you share resources with the other clients on a particular server, whereas Virtualized servers (like GoGrid which is built on top of Xen) dedicate RAM and CPU usage to the predefined server instances running on a particular node. To again put it all into perspective, see the chart below. VPS is one of the terms that seems to be remaining steady as a searched term. This is most likely due to the fact that most of the main-stream hosting providers offer VPS hosting as their “bread & butter.”


In general, these terms all seem to be converging, which means only one thing, confusion and clutter within the marketplace. With so many options now available, potential server customers are presented with even more choices, and these choices frequently can’t be directly compared. One can look at RAM allocation, Hard Drive sizes and CPU speeds as sort of a rudimentary measure, but that is where the simple comparisons end. Now one is forced to choose between scalability options, server and data persistence, operating system images, peripherals (like firewalling and load-balancing), data storage, clone-ability…the list goes on. Attempts are being made to standardize these comparisons with check-lists, but since the market is so new and mutating with new entrants and updated feature sets, the IT Professional may be challenged when making decisions.

Lastly to put things all in perspective a bit, I ran a couple of other search terms, comparing “Twitter”  against Cloud, Grid and Utility Computing…the results aren’t surprising (the green line is Twitter):


And put the iPhone into the mix and everything drops off the map (note, this graph is just for Cloud, Grid, Twitter and iPhone - iPhone is the green line below):


Also, the Cloud just got another potential injection of PR from Apple as well with their announcement of MobileMe. To take directly from the source:

“MobileMe stores all your email, contacts, and calendars on a secure online server — or “cloud” — and pushes them down to your iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, and PC. When you make a change on one device, the cloud updates the others.”

Apple has brought a new technology term, the “Cloud”, previously reserved for developers, IT managers and the like to the main-stream public. Watch the cloud continue to grow now almost exponentially, I predict, even down to common-place iconography:


So, how can you “keep your head out of the clouds” with all of this clutter? I can offer the following points to help:

  • Look beyond the hardware - it’s becoming virtualized and virtually upgraded constantly; some companies will tout just one piece of the mix, look at Support, the company’s history, their Terms of Service or Service Level Agreements as other non-tangible measures
  • Don’t just jump on the bandwagon - a solution for one company or competitor may not be the solution for you; shop carefully
  • Get involved with the community - the fact that you are reading this article means that you are doing the right thing in doing your research first. Read blogs and forums as well as attend meetings to talk to end users
  • Don’t over-extend your resources - IT budgets are tight so make your decision based on that. Dedicated servers are frequently premium monthly payments; virtualized hosting can even be price by usage
  • Follow the K.I.S.S. rule - keep things simple; over-engineered network topologies can actually hurt your presence.

Where does GoGrid come into play? For starters, it offers “control in the cloud” by crystallizing real, on-demand servers into an experience that is simple, scaleable and powerful. If you want to visit Cloud Computing in a way that is both understandable and attainable, look no further than GoGrid.

More Stories By Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan is the Technology Evangelist for Cloud Computing Infrastructure provider GoGrid and ServePath and is an avid technology pundit. GoGrid is the cloud hosting division of ServePath Dedicated Hosting, a company with extensive expertise and experience in web hosting infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter.

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Most Recent Comments
Michael Sheehan 06/17/08 03:30:10 PM EDT


Thank you for pointing out your earlier research. I tried to come at it a bit differently about how cloud computing is becoming more mainstream, especially in the wake of Apple's "cloud" references at the WWDC keynote.


Guy Tel-Zur 06/13/08 03:20:54 AM EDT

The trends issue was discussed at my blog already in October 2007:

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