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They seem similar and I found an article at attempted to explain the difference, but I don't understand. They both use computers "in the cloud" or out on the Internet, so how are they different?

Thank you

EDIT: Also, why is this different than simply getting a hosting service like "normal"?

EDIT: I may have missed it but why is a hosting service different from a cloud service?

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Cloud Computing is a buzzword, ASP's are an industry. As far as I know, pretty much the same thing, just one charges too much for normal people to use them. –  Phoshi Nov 23 '09 at 21:49
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6 Answers

First of all, Cloud Computing is a hot buzzword. There have been other terms for pretty much the same thing in the past. ASP is certainly one of those, as is SaaS.

I suppose the main two concepts of Cloud Computing are that

  1. it removes the need to maintain physical hardware from the user, and
  2. the ability to scale up and down very quickly, meaning that it is

    • technologically possible to use a much higher or lower amount of the service than usual at very short notice and
    • the contractual and billing arrangements are almost completely usage-driven (no fixed costs) and short-term (can sign-up, ramp-up, cancel at any time).

Many services offered on the Internet can fit under this fashionable umbrella.

Another interesting aspect (and this probably sets it apart from traditional ASP) is that in addition to the end-user using ASP/SaaS instead of his own hardware to run his software, the provider of that service also does not necessarily own any hardware, but can use storage, backup, computing, delivery providers himself. This makes it possible to start running an ASP with almost no initial cost. It also puts you at the mercy of a complex layer of service-level-agreements.

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+1 for a concise and precise answer. A presentation on this topic was done at Drupalcon DC this year. Here's the link, should you be interested: archive.org/details/CloudTutorialGettingYourHeadInTheCloud –  mac Nov 24 '09 at 1:21
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"The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we've redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I can't think of anything that isn't cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?

"We'll make cloud computing announcements. I'm not going to fight this thing. But I don't understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud."

-- Larry Ellisson, Oracle's CEO

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I don't understand why either. thanks. –  johnny Nov 24 '09 at 21:20
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Excellent quote... but who are you quoting? –  Dave Sherohman Apr 4 '11 at 9:34
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ASP or application service provider is a service that provides application or software services. That's why it's also known as software on demand or SaaS.Cloud computing is almost having the same properties as ASP except a direct chain between the Application devoloper and consumer and consumer will have no need to understanding the concept and they can operate it easily.

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  • An application service provider is not going to provide you with console access to discrete (virtual) machines. A cloud provider might, a la Rackspace's Cloud Servers.
  • A typical "cloud" provider allows you to spin up/spin down computing capacity as-needed, often through an API. You then pay for those resources on an as-needed basis.
  • The idea of the "cloud" is a move away from dedicated managed hosting. An Application Service Provider may well use "cloud" type systems to drive their operations. Or, they may not. ASP vs cloud is not an either/or proposition.
  • Cloud systems are generally defined by being highly virtualized and highly scalable. You don't talk in terms of processors but in terms of computing units.

There are many separate ideas that tend to be categorized under cloud computing, including Software as a Service (what you might term an Application Service Provider), Utility Computing (scalable computing power that you pay by use, like a power bill, rather than in large discrete chunks), Platform as a Service (providing the hardware and underlying software stack of a solution, but not the application itself...a slightly lower level than SaaS), and others.

Basically, there may or may not be a difference. These two terms are not directly comparable, and many ASPs meet one of several definitions of cloud computing providers.

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Difference?... A marketing department!

Typically though, Application Service Provider is where you go to them and pick a specification and you receive it - if you exceed it, you need to upgrade your package and/or go to a different Application Service Prodivder.

Cloud is where you deploy your project and not really worry about the specification of the host - you have unlimited resources and typically just use (and are billed) more as you need it.

But, it really comes down to marketing, Clouds come from ASP's, your cloud provider is one and in the same way, some ASPs have been offering cloud like services for years.

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Their storage systems may be similar but their product differs.

An ASP provides applications as well as cloud access.

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Cloud Computing -is- applications, though, a lot of the time. –  Phoshi Nov 23 '09 at 21:58
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