Ballmer on defining the cloud

Cloud computing can mean different things to different people. Microsoft's CEO tries to put it in context.

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A born browser of dictionaries and a lifelong New Englander, Jon Skillings is director of copy editing at CNET. He honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing tech publications back when the web was just getting under way. He writes occasionally, on topics from GPS to James Bond.
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There's no shortage of people talking about cloud computing these days. But are they all talking about the same thing?

Speaking with venture capitalist Ann Winblad at the Churchill Club onThursday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer addressed those differences of opinion:

"I would have thought I knew what the word 'cloud computing' meant," he said, "until I sat with Anne and a bunch of venture capitalists this morning who used the word completely differently than I would have used it."

Ballmer declined to get into the specifics of Microsoft's vision, or to offer any details on its "Red Dog" project. That topic, he said, is something the company will open up about at its Professional Developer Conference in late October.

But he did offer this stab at a definition: "I think when people talk about cloud computing they're talking about taking some stuff, putting it outside the firewall, and perhaps putting it on servers that are also shared--or storage systems--that are also shared, perhaps with other companies that they know nothing about."

See also:

Ballmer on search: 'I don't like not being No. 1'
Mundie: The cloud needs killer apps
Microsoft's Mundie outlines the future of computing
Ballmer jabs at VMware