Where architecture meets cloud computing

Pat Stingley shared his vision around cloud computing and "cloud architecture"

Pat Stingley, who is well known in the government cloud computing space, has been sharing his own thoughts on "cloud architecture,” including his initial thinking on the topic. Pat and I have been speaking at and sitting on panels at some recent cloud computing for government events. I spoke with Pat yesterday, and he wanted me to assist in distributing his thinking for public comments; he also mentioned this is his work as an individual thought leader. However, if you’re following the government cloud computing movement, which is growing rapidly, you already know Pat Stingley. He says:

I have been working very hard trying to identify just what cloud computing is. At this point, my working definition for cloud computing is [twofold.] From an engineering [perspective] the cloud is a computing architecture characterized by a large number of interconnected identical computing devices that can scale on demand and that communicate via an IP network. From a business perspective it is computing services that are scalable and billed on a usage basis.

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My key takeaway from this was: So where is the cloud? Have we boiled it off?

My answer is to circle back and say that the cloud is an architecture and a way of paying for services in an on-demand fashion, not the set of services themselves. While many of the services in the diagram above could be provided by employing the use of a cloud architecture, they can (and often are) deployed in non-cloud architectures as well.

What’s important about Pat’s framework is how much of cloud computing is defined by architecture, including SOA. Therefore, you need an overarching architecture to determine the proper use of all components, including those delivered in the cloud. In essence, the use of architecture spans both on-premise and cloud.

As cloud computing continues to gain traction, the tendency will be to view cloud computing as a set of new enabling technologies that have direct tactical value. However, cloud, as Pat puts it, is an architecture. By looking at it this way, you’ll see the value well beyond the hype and any short-term tactical advantage.

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