Blog Post

Forrester Defines the Cloud, But We Beg to Differ

A new report out from Forrester takes a chart-filled look at cloud computing, offering the analyst firm’s own definition of the cloud and attempting to dispel three myths they have noticed. Since we at GigaOM buy pretty heavily into two of these so-called myths — namely that a cloud is comprised of a scalable virtualized server environment and that it’s a low-margin business — I was eager to see where we had been led astray.

But I don’t think we have been. The report takes a big tent approach to clouds, applying the cloud moniker to both the end user market and to a class of goods it calls infrastructure-as-a-service. That’s far above the hardware level where Amazon, Mosso and GoGrid sit, and includes software-as-a-service and even consumer web applications like Zillow or Flickr. Such a broad definition doesn’t really help clear any of the fog for the industry, and would likely only serve to make the term “cloud” even more of a marketing tool than it already is.

As the chart shows, Forrester sees clouds where most people see web applications. The lower three tiers are in line with a post written by the CEO of RightScale, a startup adding a platform on top of the physical infrastructure of the cloud. We’ve tried hard to distinguish between the hardware layers and the layers resting on it, such as platforms-as-a-service and APIs offered for mashups, which Forrester calls application-components-as-a-service, but are we being too dogmatic? What we’ve called the cloud, Forrester calls hardware-as-a-service (HaaS). Personally, I could do with fewer aaSes in my life, but regardless, since our readers are pretty savvy on this topic, what do y’all think?

chart Copyright © 2008, Forrester Research, Inc.

14 Responses to “Forrester Defines the Cloud, But We Beg to Differ”

  1. Agreed. the market need to reinvent itself to boost noise and justify ceo expenditures. this is just one attempt that is as you say the same we have with a different name.
    now, who creates this terms? the big it companies. why? they need excuses to show r&d, they need excuses to keep talking their customers, etc.
    we all now, this is not big money unless you hit the crowded end user segment…
    have a great year

  2. Agree that the (X)aaS naming is becoming somewhat of a cliche, since they’re all variations of a managed service offering.

    Regardless, the trend is compelling for anyone in a large enterprise that’s had to wait for a new business capability to be delivered by a legacy internal IT group that’s consumed by the day-to-day operations.

    The drudgery associated with managing fundamental infrastructure is inhibiting the talent in IT organizations from focusing on strategic business technology applications.

  3. jgannonwp

    I think the idea of IaaS (or whatever it ends up being called) is pretty important. We’re now getting to the point where we can move many IT processes outside the datacenter and into ‘the cloud’ (sorry, had to use the term). Not just processing and storage but full-blown solutions (DR, software dev, etc).