Cloud Computing

I am getting a little annoyed with hearing people wax lyrical about “the ” and how its going to revolutionise the world. I have a news flash for you all, its not new and its not revolutionary!

First of all, lets define what we are talking about. There is a simple definition for Cloud Computing, and three models of operation as held by NIST, these are:

Definition:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.

Models of Operation:

Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email). The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings.

Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly application hosting environment configurations.

Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls).

Now, I am pretty sure that during my long career, I have seen a lot of companies doing IaaS and PaaS as a “Business as Usual” activity, haven’t you? In my experience, IaaS is nothing more than a traditional infrastructure outsourcing arrangement, as undertaken with IBM, HP/EDS or BT, while PaaS is just a simple hosting service offered by most ISP’s (I accept I am simplifying here). So what are we really talking about when the press pickup and pedal the term “cloud computing”. Looks to me like they are talking about SaaS, which again, has been around for a while, Hotmail anyone?, but not really taken off in the enterprise until it became “cloud computing”. So is this just a media spin to pedal Hotmail to the enterprise or just a natural progression from outsourcing boxes to apps? What is revolutionary here, I am yet to see.

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