Meaningful cloud categories to get past the hype

The term 'cloud computing' and its accompanying vendor hype is turning off IT. Here's how to refocus on tangible benefits

The hype around cloud computing seems to be diminishing, and I for one think that's a good thing. The trouble with the term "cloud computing" is that because it means so many things to so many people, it will soon have very little meaning to anyone.

It's not just me, by the way. As's Paul Krill point out, the developers at a recent PHP Developer's Conference were underwhelmed by cloud computing. Indeed, they thought cloud computing was overhyped and vendor-driven.

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Let's break cloud computing apart into areas that will provide more focus -- and thus less confusion and more targeted research. Here is my proposal.

First, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a good basis for dividing cloud computing, including software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS). I like those, but I think we can go deeper and be more descriptive. For example, consider these more detailed subcategories:

  • Cloud Computing > SaaS > Productivity applications
  • Cloud Computing > SaaS > Enterprise applications
  • Cloud Computing > IaaS > Storage
  • Cloud Computing > IaaS > Compute
  • Cloud Computing > IaaS > Management
  • Cloud Computing > PaaS > Development
  • Cloud Computing > PaaS > Testing
  • Cloud Computing > Security
  • Cloud Computing > Governance

Of course, I'm not trying to provide a subcategory for everything, just be a bit more specific on the major spaces now emerging. Productivity applications, for instance, include word processing, calendaring, email, and spreadsheets. Enterprise applications includes CRM, ERP, and supplier relationship management (SRM). These are very different concepts that should not all be tossed into the SaaS bucket.

The same goes with storage, compute, and management in the IaaS space, as well as development and testing in PaaS. Of course, security and governance require their own area of focus too.

This just seems more logical to me. Agreed?

This article, "Meaningful cloud categories to get past the hype," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at


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