Monday, December 20, 2010

Defining Cloud

I observe considerable confusion over "what is the Cloud?" The absence of industry standards in this space is clearly a concern. In the early stages of any new trend there is a confusion effect as the industry (formally or de facto) decides what’s what. Of course it’s also interesting to note how new trends merge into the stack, often without discernable separation in a relatively short time.

In context with Cloud, the NIST criteria seem like a good start.

- On demand self service, Broad network access, Resource pooling, Rapid elasticity, Measured service

These components are actually useful as a starter set of principles. In the same way we defined SOA in terms of principles I would suggest we do the same here. I suggest Cloud Principles might include:

  • The provision of virtualized, encapsulated services
  • Self service, on demand consumption
  • Multi-tenant, dynamically scaled resource pool
  • Managed and monitored
  • Pay as you go usage
  • Using industry standards

I accept the industry standards is, as yet, a bit of a stretch. . .

I wonder if the perceived confusion de jour arises because we are focused on the current maturity model state – infrastructure provisioning. My contention is that the next stage will add commodity business services (of all sorts not exclusively Web Services and SOA) and the provisioning will morph to include self service, assembly and orchestration. In fact we are seeing this already in BPaaS. In this model many SaaS providers including Salesforce would qualify.