Searching more interesting cloud definitions let’s take a look to IDC, which is coming from a long period of IT industry research and cumulated value expertise. IDC research is contemporary with major technology evolution, giving to IDC analysts a very comprehensive perception of cloud computing phenomenon. To better reflect this, I will show some cloud definitions made on IDC Exchange blog in 2008, and few actual comments extracted from an IDC Market Spotlight from the beginning of 2013.

As a research and analyse company, IDC takes market definitions and taxonomies very seriously, making difference between the real market trends and simple particularly developments. From IDC perspective, “speaking about cloud computing most people talk about on-line delivery and consumption models for business and consumer services. These services include IT service – like software-as-a-service, storage, and server capacity as a service, but also many, many non-IT business and consumer services”.

Starting from the end-user perspective, the most majority of these online services are not “computing” processing, being simple activities related to shopping, banking, selling, collaborating, communicating, etc. So, all these services customers are not explicitly buying “cloud computing”, but the “cloud services” that are enabled by cloud computing environments. “Cloud computing is hidden underneath the business or consumer service”, IDC proposing a clear different definition between:

Cloud Services = Consumer and Business products, services and solutions that are delivered and consumed in real-time over the Internet


Cloud Computing = an emerging IT development, deployment and delivery model, enabling real-time delivery of products, services and solutions over the Internet.

Resuming, any consumer service delivered and consumed over the Internet in real-time is virtually a cloud service. Cloud computing is the IT environment that enables the development, delivery and consumption of cloud services. Any discussion of cloud computing must start with a discussion of what the attributes of cloud services are, and what attributes cloud computing environments need to enable…

Starting from these, cloud computing off-premises approach could look like this: “On the surface, cloud computing is really nothing new — a service provider delivers technology infrastructure or software resources that are hosted or located offsite with user access through a high-speed Internet connection. Web hosting and remotely hosted email are typical examples of cloud computing and, like remote storage, were being used by many midsize firms long before cloud computing became a popular term.”

IDC Cloud DefinitionWhat’s different now from IDC perspective “is that specific offerings are being presented in a very efficient, shared way that effectively pushes operational economies down to the user. Also different are three important elements that will encourage adoption: the quality of remotely hosted offerings, the ease with which they can be implemented, and the almost ubiquitous nature of high-speed Internet connections that make effective implementation possible.”

Very interesting is also IDC classification of the basic cloud services categories: cloud applications, cloud platforms, and cloud infrastructure, which are totally different from NIST descriptions for the same categories. According IDC, the first two categories are included under the general heading of “software as a service” (SaaS) as is the system infrastructure software part of cloud infrastructure (see Figure)

IDC’s definition of cloud computing is based on the following attributes:

  • Shared, standard service — built for a market (public), not a single customer, using standard browsers and underlying technology
  • Solution packaged — a “turnkey” offering, integrates required resources
  • Self-service — administration, provisioning; may require some “on-boarding” support
  • Use-based pricing — supported by service metering
  • Accessible via the Internet/IP — ubiquitous (authorized) network access

Concluding, according IDC the most basic attribute is that cloud resources are designed to meet a general market need rather than a specific customer need. Private cloud solutions can be customized, but they still rely on basic solutions to begin with. The shared aspect of capabilities makes the use of standardized architecture and technologies understandable and also sets the stage for innovation by service providers.

Sources: IDC eXchange and IDC Market Spotlight

Photo Source: IDC Market Spotlight


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