This insightful post on the RightScale blog recently got me thinking. The term “Cloud Computing” is much too vague. People want and need “slots” or “segments” where they can group things. This is how the mind operates through categorization and ordering. So, to possibly help with this, I would like to propose a “Cloud Pyramid” to help differentiate the various Cloud offerings out there.
There are other ways to display this hierarchy, however I elected to show it as a pyramid. For example, if one were to weight the graphic by the number of providers within each segment, the pyramid would be upside-down. The point here though is to show how these cloud segments build upon and are somewhat dependent upon each other. While they are directly related, they don’t require interdependence (e.g., a Cloud Application does not necessarily have to be built upon a Cloud Platform or Cloud Infrastructure). I would propose, however, that Cloud trends indicate that they will become more entwined over time.
Within this part of the pyramid, users are truly restricted to only what the application is and can do. Some of the notable companies here are the public email providers (Gmail, Hotmail, Quicken Online, etc.). Almost any Software as a Service (SaaS) provider can be lumped into this group. Most retail consumers use the services within this Cloud. You get pre-defined functionality and you cannot much further than that. Applications are designed for ease of use and GTD (getting things done). SalesForce, a huge Cloud Application/SaaS provider that has led the way for hosted software, falls into this category as well, however, their force.com product does not. Even online banking offerings could be lumped into this group.