The terms cloud computing and cloud services have quickly become familiar among virtually all people who use technology, which is everyone. Every day, we have see breaking news about companies offering cloud services, moving to the cloud or acquiring cloud-based companies. A unified definition of what cloud computing really means has proved necessary as everyone seems to have their own definition. To have a more precise definition of what cloud computing is, think about what IT always needs: less infrastructure investment with added capabilities. Cloud services are a good example of how existing capabilities are offered in real-time over the Internet.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) cloud services are software applications delivered via browsers. They have no server or software licensing upfront investments and are easy to maintain. Salesforce, Google (News - Alert) Apps, Zoho Office and Workday are examples of some of the most widely used SaaS cloud offerings. The rise of SaaS cloud services has seen, what were originally desktop applications, move to the cloud. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) delivers development environments as a cloud service. Here, you build and deploy applications from the vendors’ servers which allow for pre-integration. The Google Apps Engine and mashup platforms like Yahoo Pipes are examples of PaaS cloud services.
Utility computing from companies like IBM (News - Alert), Amazon and Sun has also been on the rise. Some of these cloud services include online storage and virtual server space. Amazon currently offers a popular public cloud space called the Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) for utility computing. Web services such as APIs that exploit Internet functionalities have also been on the rise. Rather than delivering applications, these cloud services open up opportunities for developers to exploit discrete business services for either mapping such as the Google Maps API, payroll or credit card processing among others. API management platforms like 3Scale have also been launched that allow users to connect their API wherever it’s hosted and whatever it’s built in.
In fact, Managed Service Provider (MSPs) now offer applications to IT rather than end-users such as email scanning, anti-spam and monitoring services. Postini (News - Alert), an anti-spam service acquired by Google, is an example of such cloud services. Other cloud services include service commerce platforms and Internet Integration services like OpSource that target SaaS providers.
With so many isolated clouds of services that allow IT vendors and end-users to plug into the cloud, the exact definition may be difficult to come by. Whatever the definition you prefer though, cloud services are among the megatrends you cannot argue with that are completely revolutionizing the IT landscape.
Edited by Jamie Epstein