published on: advice.cio.com
With Forrester Research's help, I attempt to demystify the Cloud flavors known as SaaS, PaaS and IaaS for enterprise software.
What hasn't the high-tech industry done to the poor "Cloud Computing" moniker? For the past couple years or so, "The Cloud" has been hyped up like a LeBron James appearance, contorted like a Yoga-practicing Swami, poked and prodded again and again, and then hijacked by just about every apps vendor in the known universe.
Sucked up in the marketing vortex of cloud computing's hurricane were software-delivery models SaaS (software-as-a-service) and "Web-based" or "on-demand" computing. Along for the ride now—and further flummoxing market watchers and IT customers—are more aaS's: PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service). (And don't forget about "private" and "public" clouds!)
Perhaps our favorite was the Governance-as-a-Service solution we heard about this winter. Yes, that's GaaS, friends. (But I digress.)
On occasion, it seems that even the most informed tech-vendor executives and marketing folks are just as confused as the rest of us. Or, perhaps even more insidious, they do know what they're saying—how they're bending truths and glossing over factual, technical inaccuracies—all in the name linking their product or service to The Cloud.
Defining cloud in the broadest of terms is not forbidden according to today's marketing rules. Many a vendor now calls any old app that runs via the Web a "cloud computing solution." (I'm actually doing "cloud blogging" right now!)
Nevertheless, it appears that The Cloud and its marketing-licious brood are here to stay. So what does it all actually mean?
In a new Forrester Research report, principal analyst Paul Hamerman provides definitions for each as well as examples of vendors that offer products and services in each category. It's a great place to start if you're a little overwhelmed by cloud lingo. Let's do it together!
First, this is how Forrester defines cloud computing:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
OK, I buy that. Then the report then drills down further into the mix:
• Software-as-a-service (SaaS): Finished applications that are available on a rental basis.
• Platform-as-a-service (PaaS): A developer platform that abstracts the infrastructure and middleware.
• Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): A deployment platform consisting of virtualized hosting services.