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Technology as a service

Cloud computing concept is transforming the IT industry and shaping the IT service delivery into a pay-as-you-grow model. Here’s a whitepaper from Cisco on Cisco-powered “network clouds”. Thought I’d share some keypoints / highlights…

cloud pyramid

Abstraction of physical hardware (virtualization) & the ability to share common resources among users (multi-tenancy) are at the heart of cloud computing. It is with virtualization & multi-tenancy that various utility-based approach can be realized and built onto one another:

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): the abilityy to buy servers, data center resources, network equipment as an outsourced service delivered through the network cloud. Amazon, Joyent, GoGrid and FlexiScale are some examples of providers in this arena.

Platform as a service (PaaS): provides developers access to development tools for various software platforms that the developer needs to develop on. Some examples of development platforms currently out there:

  • AppEngine from Google: based on Python and Django
  • Force.com from SalesForce: based on the SalesForce SaaS infrastructure and Apex language
  • Bungee Connect: visual development studio based on Java
  • LongJump: based on Java/Eclipse
  • WaveMaker: visual development studio based on Java and hosted on Amazon EC2

Software as a service (SaaS): enables service subscribers to access a software application from a software vendor through the web. Many traditional off-the-shelf application providers are transitioning to a SaaS model. The most well known SaaS provider is probably salesforce.com. WebEX is another example of SaaS.

IT as a service (ITaaS) encompasses IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. It is a service model where an organization or individual contracts with a service provider to provide individual or bundled services.

There are many factors driving the maturation & adoption of cloud-based services. These include:

  • Cheaper and more scalable computing power allowing for more applications / users to share the same piece of physical hardware
  • Standardized offering reduces complexity related to the support of hardware and software components.
  • The pay-as-you-go model minimizes the time and initial capital outlay needed to ramp up IT projects

Despite all the excitement around cloud-based service offerings, a number of challenges exist. This report from UC Berkeley called out top 10 obstacles to the growth of cloud-based services. I am particularly concerned with the challenges around standardization as it pertains to security, inter-cloud mobility, and SLAs. Stay tuned more more!