CNET's cloud blogger James Urquhart of Cisco Systems has drawn attention to a couple of "cloud ontologies" that help break down that amorphous, nebulous (boom-boom!) concept into more meaningful chunks.
The first comes from the balmy-yet-august setting of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where Lamia Youseff, aided and abetted by Maria Butrico and Dilma Da Silva from the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, have drawn up a five-layer grouping (PDF). As Urquhart explains:
"This ontology starts with firmware and hardware as its foundation, eventually delivering us to 'cloud applications.' Along the way, the requisite terms for software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and information as a service (IaaS) are categorized, as well as the more rarely used data storage as a service (DaaS) and communications as a service (CaaS), representing storage and networking respectively."
Academics need "a common cloud classification model" before they can get on with their research, apparently. I guess you could say the same thing about enterprises that want to implement clouds and cloud service in their IT infrastructure.
The second comes from Chris Hoff's Rational Survivability blog. It's more complex, with more separate elements, than the UCSB model, but Urquhart says "it lays out classifications that many of us find somewhat intuitive and certainly very close to complete." Hoff has invited feedback too, so it may evolve over time.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to learning more at next week's Powered By Cloud conference on Monday and Tuesday in London, where there's a great line-up of speakers, along with a number of other upcoming events. Unfortunately I'll miss the next iteration of the always excellent Cloud Camp London in March, as I'll be attending SaaS Summit that week in San Francisco. I'm also not able to make April's Under the Radar: Cloud Computing in Mountain View, which will be a great showcase for cloud startups. But I will be at a pre-conference seminar the SIIA has organized (with my help) in London next month (Feb 18) on Cloud and the SaaS provider. If our paths cross at any of these events, be sure to say 'hi!'