Welcome!

Recurring Revenue Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Xenia von Wedel, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

The Three Levels of Cloud Computing

How do the different offerings compare, from Amazon Web Services to Google App Engine and Force.com?

Thorsten von Eicken's RightScale Blog

It looks like pretty soon all computing will be called cloud computing, just because the cloud is "in." Fortunately most computer savvy folks actually have a pretty good idea of what the term "cloud computing" means: outsourced, pay-as-you-go, on-demand, somewhere in the Internet, etc. What is still confusing to many is how the different offerings compare from Amazon Web Services to Google App Engine and Force.com. I recently heard a characterization of three different levels of clouds which really helps put the various offerings into perspective.

Here’s my rephrasing:

Applications in the cloud: this is what almost everyone has already used in the form of gmail, yahoo mail, wordpress.com (hosting this blog), the rest of google apps, the various search engines, wikipedia, encyclopedia britannica, etc. Some company hosts an application in the internet that many users sign-up for and use without any concern about where, how, by whom the compute cycles and storage bits are provided. The service being sold (or offered in ad-sponsored form) is a complete end-user application. To me all this is SaaS, Software as a Service, looking to join the ‘cloud’ craze.

Platforms in the cloud: this is the newest entry where an application platform is offered to developers in the cloud. Developers write their application to a more or less open specification and then upload their code into the cloud where the app is run magically somewhere, typically being able to scale up automagically as usage for the app grows. Examples are Mosso, Google App Engine, and Force.com. The service being sold is the machinery that funnels requests to an application and makes the application tick.

Infrastructure in the cloud: this is the most general offering that Amazon has pioneered and where RightScale offers its management platform. Developers and system administrators obtain general compute, storage, queueing, and other resources and run their applications with the fewest limitations. This is the most powerful type of cloud in that virtually any application and any configuration that is fit for the internet can be mapped to this type of service. Of course it also requires more work on the part of the buyer, which is where RightScale comes in to help with set-up and automation.

Looking at these different types of clouds it’s pretty clear that they are geared toward different purposes and that they all have a reason for being. The platforms in the cloud are a very interesting offering in that they promise to take some of the mundane pain away from dealing with the raw infrastructure. But it’s not at all clear to me that the vendors can live up to the promise of managing everything seamlessly and that the functional constraints won’t cause applications to have to move up to the infrastructure clouds as they mature and gain complexity. It would not be good if toy apps started on the platform clouds and then moved to the infrastructure clouds as they gain adoption. One possible outcome is a hybrid model where the canonical application core remains in the platform cloud and the odd pieces of functionality and/or the parts that need to scale the most drastically move off to infrastructure clouds.


[This appeared originally here and is republished by kind permission of the author, who retains copyright.]

 

More Stories By Thorsten von Eicken

Thorsten von Eicken is the CTO and a founder of RightScale and is responsible for the overall technology direction of the RightScale Cloud Management Platform. Previously, he was founder and chief architect at Expertcity (acquired by Citrix Online), where he directed the architecture of the company's online services, including the popular GoToMeeting service. von Eicken also managed the Expertcity/Citrix data center operations, where he acquired deep knowledge in deploying and running secure, scalable online services. He was a professor of Computer Science at Cornell University and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Matthew Small 06/03/08 07:56:41 PM EDT

Thanks for the mention and repost!

Corrections to your header:
CTO Thorsten von Eicken (not Thomas) was the founder of RightScale (not FastScale).

Gordon white 06/03/08 12:35:19 PM EDT

Amazon was the first company to sell Cloud based services in the form of its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, a part of Amazon's web services platform. Who else uses the "elastic computing" term?

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...