Change is constant – much more so in the IT industry. For me, there is no doubt that cloud computing is one of those huge paradigm shifts that really changes how IT operates within a company. We can see that internal IT is changing to become a service provider more than a system manager.
Even though most people know that change is good (isn’t it?), we can also feel that many internal IT organizations are afraid to embrace this change. Among others, we hear comments that “cloud” is not mature enough nor secure, reliable, or flexible enough. IT organizations often say that cloud computing is great… for other companies but not for them.
Of course, we know differently.
The first thing to do is to help them understand what cloud really means. More often than not, your customer sees the cloud as different things. So what is cloud for your customer?
Let’s start with the most basic concept – the deployment model. The deployment model says something about who owns and operates the environment. A cloud can either be private, public, or hybrid. A private cloud is operated within the boundaries of the customer’s organization. This means that the assets are owned by the customer and are running on hardware that is dedicated to them. Operations are usually internal but may be outsourced as well.
A public cloud is operated by someone else and is shared with other customers. This is an environment where other organizations and companies might be running on the same physical hardware. The separation is done using software.
A hybrid cloud is where you mix and bridge your private cloud with the public cloud. This is going to be the reality for many companies going forward.
Next, we need to understand the delivery methods. A cloud offering can be delivered in three ways: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Infrastructure as a Service is where we have virtual machines running and managed in a well-defined and automatic way. Often, we also attribute self-service to IaaS. The customer of this service can provision and manage the virtual machines as needed. He needs to install, run, and manage all the software within the virtual machine himself. These computing, storage and networking services are seamlessly provided by what we call the fabric.
Platform as a Service is where the frameworks for delivering software are managed by the cloud provider. Think for example Web Apps and Mobile Apps in Azure as typical examples of PaaS offerings. SQL Server, SharePoint and Dynamics CRM can also be thought of as PaaS offerings for some customers, as it gives them the room to develop their own functionality on top of the out-of-the-box ones.
Software as a Service is where the whole stack, except the application itself, is managed by the cloud provider. Microsoft’s Office365 falls under this category. The customer does not need to know, understand, nor worry about the underlying platform and operating environment. He only needs to manage and use the software applications.
That’s cloud J