Pick your public service
Recently I wrote about how OpenStack and Eucalyptus will enable customers to manage local and cloud-based infrastructure using one set of tools -- so a private cloud can burst to public cloud IaaS and accommodate peak demand. But that's not really happening right now, in part because the APIs are so limited. It's a promising scenario that's maybe three years from taking off.
Meanwhile, enterprises still tend to rent compute and storage from Amazon.com or Rackspace for the usual discrete functions (mainly disaster recovery and dev and test). One new wrinkle is that an increasing number of vendors and professional service organizations are using the public cloud to demo their offerings to large customers. Want to see what your implementation will look like? Let's spin up a couple thousand servers for 24 hours on Amazon and have a look.
As it turns out, PaaS providers are fast becoming major consumers of IaaS. For example, Engine Yard -- the leading Ruby on Rails development platform in the cloud -- uses Amazon and Terremark for its infrastructure. Engine Yard charges a slight premium to its customers for that infrastructure (plus more for support services) and otherwise alows developers to code away free of charge.
As best as I can determine, PaaS is the area of the cloud that appeals least to enterprises. No big surprise there: For what particular reason would you have your developers create intellectual property on someone else's platform? Instead, enterprises tend to have a once-removed relationship with PaaS -- and hire outside development firms to build and deploy public-facing Web apps on PaaS platforms.
There are exceptions to this, of course, an obvious example being the many customers that use the Force.com platform to add to Salesforce's functionality. But for the most part, PaaS is the province of independent developers creating custom or commercial Web and/or mobile applications. The main effect of PaaS on enterprises, then, is that it provides a platform for a new generation of consurmerized applications business users are flocking to -- and IT is desperately trying to manage.
So there's your handy state of the cloud report, summary edition. One final note: I find myself agreeing with InfoWorld's David Linthicum when he says "It's official: 'Cloud computing' is now meaningless." The cloud nomenclature has always been frustratingly vague -- and vendors' tendencies to grandfather everything on earth into "the cloud" has made matters much, much worse. No wonder people are sick of it.
Got ideas for some new terminology? I'd love to hear about it.
This article, "The (real) state of the cloud, 2011," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.