We haven't seen major examples of internal cloud computing initiatives yet, but we've certainly examined the way customers avail themselves of cloud services delivered by external providers. "Early experiments in cloud computing" looked at the way Nasdaq and the New York Times are using Amazon's EC2 and recounted how deeply SaaS has penetrated several other organizations. More recently, contributor Dave Rosenberg offered a fascinating account of how his company decided to move as much of its operation as possible to the cloud in "Cloud computing to the max."
The InfoWorld Test Center has been busy testing cloud services, too. The majority are platform-as-a-service plays, mainly because the idea of having a new environment to play in (one instantly available without provisioning) and create new Web apps is so compelling to so many developers.
Back in May, contributor Peter Wayner evaluated Google App Engine in "Google's high-flying cloud for Python code." His conclusion was that App Engine was "best for dynamic Web sites that act as a relatively thin layer of business logic sitting on top of a data store." In September, Wayner surveyed some lesser-known, lighter-weight platforms -- JotForm, FormAssembly, Wufoo, Zoho Creator, AppJet -- that let developers build form-based Web apps without coding in "Application builders in the sky." This accompanied a detailed, stand-alone review of Coghead, a flexible XML-based platform with a slick Adobe Flex GUI for creating database-driven Web apps. Wayner followed with a review of Coghead's chief competitor, Caspio Bridge, which takes a Microsoft Access-like approach and even offers tight integration with Microsoft Office.
The mother of all cloud-based development platforms was introduced at the end of October: Microsoft Windows Azure. Strategic Developer blogger Martin Heller offered an in-depth preview of the platform just a couple of weeks ago in "Windows Azure Services Platform gives wings to .Net." Despite the completely new paradigm, Azure carries forward all the familiar tools and technologies that .Net developers are using today.
The Test Center may have gone wild with platforms in the sky, but not at the expense of reviewing infrastructure services. In July, Wayner compared four cloud-based infrastructure providers: Amazon, Google, AppNexus, and GoGrid. A month later, contributor Rick Grehan took a detailed look at Amazon's offering with "Diving deep into Amazon Web Services," which delivers the most incisive evaluation you'll find anywhere.