Sunday, July 6, 2014

SaaS is not Cloud! Then What is “The Cloud”?

There are so many buzz words in this industry that gain momentum, and people tend to start using them everywhere, trying to insert some jizz into whatever their product is. In the last couple of years the term “Cloud” has been one of the most popular ones. It comes in many forms of course. Some of them include “In the cloud”, “Cloud computing”, “Cloud based services”, etc.

Different definitions

People are constantly trying to define the cloud.Most of them used to ask their customers how they define the cloud. Their customers are usually experts in this field and you would think that they are the sort of people who have no problem defining “the cloud”. And of course, most of them didn’t really have a problem with defining it, but none of them really had the same definition.
“The Cloud” seems to be a very hard thing to define and that’s probably because it is not an actual thing that you can hold, but it’s an idea or a concept. It’s also a totally different thing depending on who you are. If you’re a consumer, the cloud is where you store your files or your music. It’s where your e-mail is. For a business, it might be where your software is at, as is the case with many SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings. For a programmer, it might be a service you plug your code into to run some other code on your own server but on the surface, your software looks the same.

Clouding your judgment?

To me, all this talk of this and that being cloud based, is just plain old vanilla WRONG. The cloud is not a new name for the Internet, even though lately you would be excused for believing that.
Let’s talk about SaaS services. Marc Benioff, the CEO of has stated that was the first Cloud-based software application. is the perfect example of SaaS application, so I would ask: If SaaS offerings are cloud based applications, would you then say that is a cloud based service? from the early or infoseek, altavista or any of these other search engines? What about forums? There are millions of user-run forum software instances out there, that people just sign up and start using. If you want to say that those are cloud based offerings, then you can just as well stop using the word, because you can just interchange it for “the Internet”. Is Facebook in the Cloud? Is my blog in the Cloud?
I think this is a problem with the definitions is that people are trying to put a familiar face or a familiar category on to a concept that’s hard to define.
Another gray area is Cloud based hosting. If hosting something is “In the Cloud”, then what’s the difference between normal hosting and cloud based hosting?

Is the Cloud about scalability?

“scaling down and automation are the most fundamental aspects of cloud“. I agree completely with that, but that’s still not the focus of the cloud/not cloud discussions.
Scalability, upwards and downwards, are important. Don’t get me wrong, but that’s not really what makes cloud based stuff cloud based.

The Ultimate Definition for what the Cloud IS

I define the “Cloud” in the following way:
The Cloud is a place to store and access your resources so that they are available at any time, from anywhere, from whatever interface I choose and, most importantly, usable for any purpose I want.
To elaborate: A resource can be computing power, storage or whatever. I should never need to worry about scaling up and down and scaling or size should be a concept that the end user shouldn’t have to be aware of, except maybe in relation to costs.
In shorter terms: “The Cloud Definition: A place to access resources, available any time, anywhere, for any purpose, from whatever interface I choose.”
SaaS is not “in the Cloud”. Because you can’t access it from whatever interface you want and you probably won’t be able to use them in a different way than they were originally thought out.
Good examples of cloud based offerings:
  • Dropbox – You can access your data in what ever way and for what ever purpose you want.
  • Gmail – Almost a SaaS but the difference is that is simply an interface for interacting with your e-mail resources that you can choose to use in whatever way you like and access from whatever interface you see fit.
  • Amazon Web Services – Probably the most obvious case. Nuff said.

And finally…

SaaS services are not “In The Cloud”, they are “On The Internet”.

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