The Elements of the Cloud - InformationWeek
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4/28/2010
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John Soat
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The Elements of the Cloud

The cloud is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Cloud computing is something of a catch-all term that refers to various styles of computing using distinct components and strategies and answering diverse needs. Understanding the styles and strategies, and where they may fit in your organization, is key to understanding the benefits of cloud computing.

The cloud is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Cloud computing is something of a catch-all term that refers to various styles of computing using distinct components and strategies and answering diverse needs. Understanding the styles and strategies, and where they may fit in your organization, is key to understanding the benefits of cloud computing.

Basically, there are three different styles of cloud computing:

* Software-as-a-service: Probably the most familiar and accepted style of cloud computing, SaaS (as it is commonly abbreviated) is a subscription-based, on-demand form of accessing software applications and making those capabilities available across geographic areas and multiple devices. Customer-relationships management, human resources, and Web presence are three of the most popular forms of SaaS, but just about any application can be offered in the SaaS model. Indeed, many organizations that rely on third-party e-mail services may not realize that they are involved in cloud computing.

* Infrastructure-as-a-service: While not the most familiar, IaaS is probably the easiest style of cloud computing to comprehend and appreciate since it is closely related to antecedents like co-location and outsourcing. IaaS can provide flexible, scalable on-demand computing resources for an entire enterprise or a single department, locally or globally. Storage-as-a-service, though sometimes separated out, is a form of IaaS.

* Platform-as-a-service: This is the newest addition to the cloud lexicon. It refers to a service that makes available an operating system, database and tools, as well as requisite infrastructure resources, where customers can build and run scalable Web-based applications (which is why it is also sometimes referred to as development-as-a-service).

Breaking down cloud computing into its constituent parts makes it less intimidating and more approachable. Potential customers should research and explore each style of cloud computing, then work out where each may fit into the overall tech strategies of their organizations.The cloud is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Cloud computing is something of a catch-all term that refers to various styles of computing using distinct components and strategies and answering diverse needs. Understanding the styles and strategies, and where they may fit in your organization, is key to understanding the benefits of cloud computing.

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