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It seems like vendors are intentionally blurring the lines between virtualized environments (on/off-premise), managed services, hosting and anything else that vaguely resembles a vaporous environment. I’m not surprised; no one argues that Cloud Computing doesn’t bring a huge amount of value to the enterprise…but “defining what it is” is confusing, very confusing. So, I set out to try to build a relationship between all the different deployment topologies and then find out what the general consensus is for the name of each node.
In the diagram below the blue boxes describe that element of the topology and the red/green boxes describe what the end result is typically called.
Your job? As you hear news (like Apple’s rumored move to Cloud streaming of video) or hear about a cloud service see where it fits into the diagram. If it doesn’t then work out where the tree splits and send me the new nodes to publish. If you do the work, I’ll take the credit…OK?
My Conclusion? I think that really only the green nodes are real Cloud Computing because I want to believe that the future of the Cloud is about the elasticity not just the virtualization. I want my processes to consume zero resources when I’m not using them but to have access to massive amounts of computer power on demand.
Note: This is an attempt at aggregating other people’s definitions into a single structure not necessarily ‘my opinion’.
[Click diagram to view a version you can zoom in on.]
[Updated 15-Apr-2011: Got a feedback on the Private cloud. Added it to the off-premise nodes as the formal definition is a "cloud infrastructure that is operated solely for a single organization" which may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.]