Suggested Resolutions for Cloud Providers in 2014 #3: Avoid acronym soup when discussing cloud services

In my prior two posts, I discussed my first two Suggested New Year’s Resolutions for cloud providers in 2014:

Suggested Resolution #1: Reinforce that security is a shared responsibility
Suggested Resolution #2: Be precise about what the service does, and doesn’t do

Today, I want to offer my third and final resolution: Avoid acronym soup when discussing cloud services.

Many of us get caught up in the differences among Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).  Certainly there is value in understanding how the roles and responsibilities differ in each cloud service model.

At the end of the day though, the value of cloud computing centers on what gets delivered and used by the recipient – whether an individual or an organization. Let’s simplify how we talk about what the service will provide, and how it drives business value, and focus less on taxonomy.  This helps make cloud computing less theoretical and more real.

A good framework for thinking about the specific features of cloud computing comes from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing, published in 2011, includes the following characteristics:

• On-demand self-service
• Broad network access
• Resource pooling
• Rapid elasticity
• Measured service

But as helpful as this definition is, it only scratches at the surface when it comes to the benefits. When I think about the advantages of cloud computing, the following come to mind:

More Efficient System Maintenance and Upgrades: Security updates and system upgrades are provided on the cloud provider side, saving both time and money for cloud customers.

Better Deployment of Resources: By shifting many of their IT responsibilities to their cloud provider, including security, cloud customers can focus on what matters most to them, growing and reinvesting in their core business.

Business Continuity: In the event of a disaster – fire, flood, theft, service compromise, power outage, or snowstorm – cloud service providers often have plans in place to ensure that systems remain intact and accessible, and customer data is protected.

Improved IT Security: While some organizations that have not adopted cloud services still say they have concerns about security, many of those that have made the move to the cloud report significant security benefits. Cloud vendors operate at larger scale, making it more cost effective to invest in security tools and personnel than businesses and organizations operating their own systems.

I hope you found these Resolutions useful. It will be interesting to check back at the end of the year and see how much progress cloud providers have made toward achieving them. Have a great 2014.

About the Author
Adrienne Hall

General Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Adrienne Hall is a General Manager in the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing group, where she leads a team of information technology (IT) professionals who are focused on the security, privacy, reliability, and accessibility of devices and services built on Microsoft technology. Read more »