How to explain cloud to your spouse – Part 2


For those of you that have been following this site for several months, you may have come across my previous blog post: How to explain cloud to your spouse.  When I wrote it, I thought it was just a something silly, and had no idea it would resonate with as many people as it did. I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t already, as this post builds upon the four ways I explained how rental cars could be used to explain cloud computing.

Based on the feedback I received, I wanted to share four more ways to extend the rental car and cloud computing analogy to describe about some additional aspects of cloud. Special thanks go to @DigitalDruid0, Simon, DonM, and Helene Rude for sparking some of the extensions.

1. You can rent a different type of car for different situations.

When you go to the beach, you rent a convertible.  When you go skiing, you rent something with all-wheel drive and a ski rack. When you are driving a long distance, you select something that gets good gas mileage. Each one of these vehicles would likely have a different cost associated to them. Similarly, in cloud computing, you can select different cloud services to fit your various needs.  You could select a cloud service with a lot of resources behind it for a very processing intensive task, or you could select a cheaper cloud service if you needed fewer resources. In cloud terminology, this is sometimes referred to as being “Fit for Purpose.”

2. You aren’t responsible for maintaining a rental car.

Oil changes, tire rotations and changing the spark plugs are all things that you don’t have to worry about when you are renting a car. The rental car company handles all of these maintenance issues so you don’t have to.  Realistically, this is built into the price of renting the car, but for the renter it is worth it to have that piece of mind. Just as rental car providers maintain their fleet, cloud providers maintain the hardware and software running the cloud platform, so that the cloud consumers don’t need to worry about it.

3. If your rental car breaks down or you have an accident, the rental car company will bring you a new car.

They would also take care of driving or towing the original car away. Something similar happens in a cloud environment. If something happens to your cloud instance, the cloud provider can very quickly and easily create a new instance for you. This ability to quickly stand up new services after a problem is referred to as disaster recovery.

4. If you are travelling with a big group you can rent multiple cars.

Sometimes my wife and I go on vacation with a group of friends.  Between all the people and luggage, there isn’t enough room in one car (even a big one). Fortunately, rental car companies have many cars available to rent, and when we have this increased demand, we can rent multiple cars.  In cloud computing, this is referred to as elasticity.  When we need additional resources (or cars) we can rent them.  When we no longer need the additional space, we can return the car to the provider and no longer need to pay for it.

My first attempt to explain cloud to my wife went reasonably well; she actually made it to the end of the analogy before losing interest.  I can only hope this one goes as well.  If you try this explanation on your spouse (or friend, brother, child, dog), I’d love to hear about it.  Let me know @TalkToErik.

Comments: 12
Erik Anderson

About Erik Anderson

Erik has been with IBM for over eleven years, most recently as the Senior Architect for Worldwide Technical Sales Demo Strategy within Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure. In this role, he looks at the strategic aspects of how to better create and deliver compelling demonstrations to the field and improve the products in the process. Prior to that, he spent several years in Enablement shaping the technical enablement strategy and structuring the cloud curriculum. He also kept his technical edge by developing technical training for many of the different C&SI cloud solutions for a wide range of audiences. Previously, he worked in support on some of the most challenging issues and critical situations around the globe. He is a veteran speaker at user groups and conferences, has co-authored a Redbook, published patents, and authored certification exams. He is also ITIL certified and an Open Group Master Certified IT Specialist. Find him on Twitter @TalkToErik.
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12 Responses to How to explain cloud to your spouse – Part 2

  1. Nice post! Thanks for the attribution…link sent to my spouse =8-)

  2. Carguy123 says:

    Very true- However, A rental car would probably not be feasible all of the time whereas a cloud server would be. I do like your analogies and have definitely forwarded this over to my "not so IT" spouse.

    • @TalkToErik says:

      Thanks Carguy123! I do see your point about availability. On the other hand, in order to access the cloud server, we do need to rely on things like power and network availability… so the cloud server might not be available all of the time either.

  3. coventrywest says:

    Whenever I try and make a case for a replacement topic to somebody, i prefer to use analogies. during this case, I selected rental cars. I’ll pay the remainder of the post describing the four ways in which rental cars area unit like cloud computing in an exceedingly method that even my spouse would be willing to browse.

  4. labelcomp says:

    yes, but she never asks how you are doing all of this, what language you use etc.?

  5. Haha, great analogies Erik.

  6. @nicholsr says:

    Great article Erik, really enjoyed it and congrats on being the IBMCloud top post of 2013. I think the article really only deals with IaaS cloud. It seems not to deal with PaaS or SaaS and cloud services. I wonder if the analogy could be extended to take in those concepts. If IaaS is a rental car then maybe PaaS is actually more like a limmo service – you dont get control of the container but you get a higher level of service – a driver, minibar, hot-tub etc. All things you could _chose_ to put into your rental car at your own expense but of course, renting a driver by the hour for a rental car would be as silly as renting a WAS license by the hour….what you want is a PaaS that has WAS installed.

  7. Why would I ever want to explain about cloud to my spouse. If that has to happen then the rest of my life will be over from that point out there. So I would better do everything for her than teach her about it.

  8. Tommy Buer says:

    I've been experimenting with cloud-based backup trying nearly everything out there from KeepVault to CrashPlan. I'm currently "between online backup strategies" right now, although I'm leaning towards CrashPlan. Most of these online backup companies are pretty confusing when you factor in someone with a server. For example, I have a main computer in my house but I also have a server. I have a KitchenPC and my wife's laptop but both of those don't matter as all the data is on server. However, I really want disk images for my main machine.

  9. Jules says:

    Thanks Erik, we need more analogies in life, would help allot of people learn easier like myself,
    appreciate your time.

  10. Meela says:

    What a great analogy! Thanks for making the explanation to be much understood by non IT people.

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