How To Explain Cloud Services To Your Mother

Over the past few years’ information technology has embraced cloud environments more and more. While many will say that cloud is steadily increasing in adoption by both large and small companies there are still some end users that we run into that either don’t understand the benefits that cloud adoption can bring them or maybe simply don’t understand what cloud is… like my mother.

A joke that I once heard from an IBMer regarding the fact that he had bought his mother a Power system was that she didn’t know what to do with it… His response was backup, backup, backup. Now, this joke needs to be changed around, and when you tell your mother that you bought her a new Power system she is going to say… “Well, where is it and what do I do with it?”… and you will now say… “It’s in the cloud but you still need to backup, backup, backup.” Explaining what a cloud environment is to my mother was similar to trying to explain to my father how they got all those TV channels into that thin black cable wire.

Let’s tackle some of the basics of cloud terminology and relate them to something that your mother might be able to understand.

Let’s start with the high-level terminology:

  • IaaSInfrastructure as a Service is a type of cloud computing service that offers essential compute, storage, and networking resources on-demand, on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • PaaS – Platform as a service is a complete environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications.
  • SaaS – Software as a Service. Software as a Service, also known as cloud application services, represents the most commonly utilized option for businesses in the cloud market. SaaS utilizes the internet to deliver applications, which are managed by a third-party vendor, to its users.

Simply strip out the “as a” and consider that the term “Service” simply means that you are paying someone else to supply that function and you are left with…


Let’s replace this term with hardware because that is what Infrastructure is. Your mother might have a Windows or Apple desktop, laptop, or tablet that is her infrastructure. In this case, these devices provide storage (data, files, documents), processing capabilities from the chip on the “motherboard” and physical connectivity to the outside world (aka The Internet). This is a self-contained infrastructure environment that may not have any cloud aspects to it.

In a cloud environment, this infrastructure is provided to you via connectivity and is maintained by the provider, thus freeing your mother to worry about other things and doesn’t complicate her life having to maintain, repair, and upgrade the hardware infrastructure that she has.


This is a harder one to explain in terms your mother can understand but let’s give it a try. Your mother’s desktop or laptop is not only a piece of hardware but also contains the necessary applications to achieve some goal. This level of the infrastructure, while not hardware, is essential, or you simply have a large paperweight. This platform level delivers application programs in a user interface that is easy to understand and use and controls all the functions of the hardware for storing and retrieving data and providing programs for connectivity.

In a cloud environment, this is a level that is typically supplied by the cloud provider as part of the Infrastructure but can be provided by the customer.


This is an easier aspect to relate to your mother. She may use the word Applications but a better basic term is programs. These are the programs that get used on a regular basis to accomplish the required tasks… i.e writing a letter in a word processor program. These are for the most part software programs that you have on your hardware that enable you to perform a task. If necessary you can expand on this to point out that the use of a browser to access Facebook is really a hybrid environment where you are using a browser program on your hardware platform to access the Facebook application which resides in the cloud.

In a cloud environment, this is also a level that will either be supplied by the cloud provider as part of the Infrastructure and Platform but can be provided by the customer.

You can now tell your mother that the infrastructure that you work on is called the IBM Power Systems and it delivers a solid Platform computing environment and the Software that powers companies from the smallest mother and pop organizations to the largest enterprises.

We will save the discussion about public, private, and hybrid cloud models, virtualization, business processes, security and privacy, economies of scale, elasticity, self-service, and metering, until another time when we are sure your mother actually understands the basics we have outlined above.

Let me know if your mother has any questions. iTech Solutions can be reached at 203-744-7854 or [email protected] if your mother would like to discuss moving her Infrastructure, Platform, and Software to the iTech Cloud.


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