Elemental Cloud-o-gram

Note: With the launch of Elemental Cloud Computing, I published my “Cloud-o-gram”.  The complete post follows.

Whenever I explore or explain a technology construct, my natural inclination is to pick up a pen and draw.  The resultant diagram typically contains domain, interaction and mind mapping elements.  Despite the non-standard output, these diagrams help me delve into broad and/or complicated topics, and communicate with practitioners.

My exploration of cloud computing is no exception.  As I was researching cloud computing, I created the following “cloud-o-gram” diagram.  Rather than (yet another) definitional or architectural diagram, the cloud-o-gram is my interpretation of the cloud computing space.

[Click on diagram to enlarge]

As you will quickly notice, my interpretation varies from the typical “as-a-service” stack model.   This comes from looking at the space with the lens of an enterprise architect.  Enterprise architects start with abstractions rather than products.   Abstractions allow for a broader viewpoint and are more accommodative of change.  Given the emerging nature of cloud computing, change is inevitable.

Over time, Elemental Cloud Computing will explore each area of the cloud-o-gram in depth, including representative software, hardware, service and practice offerings.

For this introductory post, I want to provide a quick walkthrough of the cloud-o-gram.  Before that though, I should probably comment on the name, “cloud-o-gram”.  Simply, I needed a name that would in no way connote definition, architecture or design. Cloud-o-gram fit.

Cloud-o-gram Overview

Recently, consumers co-opted the term “cloud” to refer to any application or information service that runs elsewhere.   This is a point of confusion since the consumer view is independent of the service provider’s use of cloud computing technologies, techniques and practices.

For clarity, the cloud-o-gram refers to the term cloud in quotes, in recognition of the colloquialism, and introduces a more precise, successor term, “cloud computing environment” (CCE).  The diagram illustrates this via the dotted line from the yellow “Cloud” box to the blue “Cloud Computing Environment” ellipse.

The cloud-o-gram has four inter-related areas: cloud computing offerings, cloud computing environment, cloud computing environment offerings and customer-provider agreements.

Cloud Computing Offerings

Cloud computing environments and the services offered in those environments are the most prominent cloud computing offerings.  However, as the cloud-o-gram indicates, the cloud computing space is much broader.

Referring to the diagram, the cloud-o-gram includes five categories of cloud computing offerings, illustrated as yellow and green rectangles emanating from the yellow Cloud Computing Offerings ellipse.

Each category is named for its relationship to the cloud computing environment (“cloud”).  These include offerings “for the cloud”, “about the cloud”, “on the cloud”, “of the cloud”, as well as the cloud computing environment itself.

The “of the cloud” and “on the cloud” offerings are colored green to show these are both cloud computing offerings and cloud computing environment offerings.

A brief description of each cloud computing offering category follows.  Referring to the diagram, the offerings are listed clockwise, starting at the top.

Cloud Computing Environment:  A cloud computing environment (CCE) is the end result of applying technology, architecture and engineering practices, along with operating, security, policy and economic models, in a manner that optimizes for resource sharing, elasticity (scale), automation, self-service and pay-as-you-go.

Rather than chasing cloud computing environment descriptors – public, private, virtual private – the cloud-o-gram calls out the underlying aspects, such as physical location, owner and target markets.  This allows for a wide range of cloud computing environments, such as a government agency CCE designed to provide services to other agencies, a CCE that specializes by industry, or even a CCE that specializes by workload.

For the “Cloud” (CCE):  Offerings for the CCE include all of the hardware, software, standards, practices and services to build, use, manage and secure a cloud computing environment.  Many of the wares in this category are not unique to cloud computing, however each contributes to the existence and success of a CCE.

About the “Cloud” (CCE):  Offerings about the CCE include all the software, services, practices and standards concerned with delegating management control of business information and workloads to external parties.  Facets include assurance, compliance, billing and metering, and brokering.

Cloud Computing & Cloud Computing Environment Offerings

On the “Cloud” (CCE):  Offerings on the CCE are applications, software, information, services or processes services deployed onto, and therefore accessed from, a cloud computing environment.  Typically, these offerings provide agency, business or consumer capability, rather than technical capability.

Of the “Cloud” (CCE):  Offerings of the CCE are technical capabilities exposed via service interfaces, which are consumed during the development and/or delivery of agency, business or consumer capabilities.  These technical capabilities provide infrastructure (IaaS) or platform (PaaS) services.  Examples include compute, storage, data management, integration, orchestration, and application development.

Customer-Provider Agreements

A critical component to the success of cloud computing is the customer-provider agreement.  The agreement must provide legal protection for both parties, clearly spell out the financials and terms of service, and protect the information assets and IP of the customer.

While some equate cloud computing agreements and governance to corresponding SOA practices, that is an understatement.  Cloud computing adds the dimension of one, or several, outside parties and therefore the contract and governance practices must incorporate outsourcing concerns and be legally enforcable.

Next Steps

As mentioned in the opening, this post is an introduction to the cloud-o-gram, in its first public release.  As the cloud computing space evolves, so will the cloud-o-gram.

Over time, Elemental Cloud Computing will explore each area of the cloud-o-gram in depth, including representative software, hardware, service and practice offerings.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding the cloud-o-gram, please leave a comment, ping this post, find me on twitter, or drop an email.

Copyright Notice: Elemental Cloud-o-gram is a copyrighted work of Elemental Links, Inc.

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