Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

Cloud Computing

TMS Technology

What is cloud computing?  Four different meetings, four different shippers, and four different times this week I was asked this question.

So, I’m thinking this may be a question on some of your minds too. Or, if not now, perhaps it will be soon. Here is a quick replay of this week’s Q&A on cloud computing:

Q: Is cloud computing brand new?

A: No.

Q: Then it is something we may already know about?

A: Yes.

Q: So, what is the cloud?

A: A metaphor.

Q: A metaphor?

A: Yes, cloud computing is a metaphor for the internet.

Q: Is Software as a Service (SaaS) the same as cloud computing?

Yes, but not always.

Q: Okay, this is getting annoying—can you just tell me what cloud computing is?

Sure.

Cloud computing generally falls into one or a combination of the following categories:

  • Software as a service
  • Infrastructure as a service
  • Platform as a service

The cloud is a metaphor for the internet because it conceals complicated infrastructure and delivers applications seamlessly over the internet. TMC’s online tools are a cloud. When you print your boarding pass over the internet, make a purchase online, or when you hit Google, you are experiencing cloud computing.

The guys at IBM would also say (and do so on their website) that a key to cloud computing is the massive scalability and on-demand presence —- like Google or Salesforce.com.

Similarly, the online tools our customers use ensure no one has to deal with maintaining the physical infrastructure or hardware. Your resources do not need to support the application, implement new patches, or provide user support.

Instead, you eliminate the fixed costs associated with your infrastructure, and pay as you go from us. You share services and infrastructure with other clients which lowers the cost, lowers your overhead, and makes everyone more efficient.

Oh, and there is the added benefit of lowering energy costs — which makes you green too. Don’t buy it? Computers and servers are major consumers of energy. Cloud computing uses energy more efficiently and is carbon neutral.

Q: Are there other benefits?

A: Yes. Implementation is faster, and much less disruptive to your resources. There is also the accessibility component. All you need is a web browser.

- President, Managed Services
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