We’ve all been to a few conferences now and have heard the same attempts to define Cloud Computing over and over. Pundits, analysts and vendor strategists can barely contain their sanity when it’s brought up again. I’m not going to create a new definition, but I did want to help people understand what I call the Cloud Spectrum.
The Cloud Spectrum helps people understand how the various flavors of Cloud — Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) — fit into the larger Cloud umbrella.
By examining what layer of the compute stack is being abstracted and delivered, it’s pretty easy to differentiate a service as belonging in the IaaS, PaaS or SaaS category. This categorization also helps vendors think about what value they are selling into the end-market (not to mention which end-market they should target!).
- IaaS vendors should be emphasizing value propositions that compare to a customer’s physical computing choices and any (all!) associated problems that come with that infrastructure.
- PaaS vendors probably have the most esoteric positioning and message development challenge because they have to promote the value of an architectural platform. This is why smart vendors like Heroku and EngineYard have largely drafted and supported a platform that is already gaining gaining its own traction, Ruby on Rails.
- SaaS vendors should clearly focus on higher-level, business-oriented messages. This may be why Salesforce.com initially ran into some challenges when they launched Force.com – their existing user base, salespeople, didn’t really understand (or care about) messaging related to application frameworks.