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Cloud 2.0: Are We There Yet?

Cloud computing is still partly hype, part reality. Broken down into its constituent parts (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) it is a pragmatic strategy with a history of success. But the concept of "the cloud" still has some executives scratching their heads over what's real, what's exactly new about it, and how it fits into their IT plans. Is it time to move to Cloud 2.0?
Cloud computing is still partly hype, part reality. Broken down into its constituent parts (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) it is a pragmatic strategy with a history of success. But the concept of "the cloud" still has some executives scratching their heads over what's real, what's exactly new about it, and how it fits into their IT plans. Is it time to move to Cloud 2.0?

Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies, a cloud consultancy, has written an interesting column for InformationWeek's Global CIO blog about the evolution of cloud computing and how it is poised to enter the "2.0" stage. The ubiquitous "2.0" designation passed from software development to popular culture several years ago, and it is used to express a significant advancement or shift in direction. Because of its ubiquity, the 2.0 moniker has lost some of its specificity.

Right now, public cloud computing is dominated by the "XaaS" models: software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Some organizations are experimenting with private clouds, which import the public cloud's capabilities around resource scalability and dynamic flexibility into proprietary data centers.

To me, Cloud 2.0 is exemplified in one word: hybrid. Cloud computing will offer its most compelling advantages when organizations can combine private clouds and public clouds (XaaS) in IT architectures that stretch the definition of flexibility and agility.

An example of that Cloud 2.0 direction is Microsoft's Azure strategy. Azure is Microsoft's platform-as-a-service offering, capable of supporting online demand for dynamic processing and services. Microsoft is also building similar automation and management capabilities into its Windows Server technology, which should enable the development of private clouds and their integration with the public cloud, specifically in this instance Azure.

It might be a little soon to jump to the Cloud 2.0 designation just yet. But as development continues, it's not that far away, and it's not too soon to start figuring it into your IT strategy.Cloud computing is still partly hype, part reality. Broken down into its constituent parts (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) it is a pragmatic strategy with a history of success. But the concept of "the cloud" still has some executives scratching their heads over what's real, what's exactly new about it, and how it fits into their IT plans. Is it time to move to Cloud 2.0?

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing