In general, there are three pillars of service that appear to be the primary drivers of the cloud: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Of the three, it seems IaaS represents the most transformative service in that it literally provides a full data center experience to those who have no infrastructure of their own.
According to The Yankee Group, IaaS is coming on much stronger than anyone predicted in the earliest days of the cloud. Of those organizations that have already deployed the cloud, which granted is not many, some 24 percent are already using IaaS, and another 37 percent plan to do so in the next two years.
And perhaps more telling, the group reports that the single biggest obstacle to IaaS, security, drops way down on the list of concerns once the service is up and running. Post-deployment, the chief worries turn out to be regulatory compliance, data migration, reliability, employee use and quantitative benefits. More and more firms, it seems are turning to system integrators to bridge the divide between traditional physical infrastructure and virtual/cloud deployments, particularly when it comes to storage and on-demand computing.
IaaS is emerging as a key selling point among top cloud platform providers. Red Hat, for example, is aiming for broad, interoperable infrastructure services through its Apache Deltacloud implementation. The company recently submitted the API to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) for consideration under its open cloud management program. Apache Deltacloud utilizes RESTful web services to provide an open-source cloud ecosystem based on the company's Apache Software Foundation.
It is also widely suspected that cornering the market on IaaS and other services is at the heart of the struggle for 3Par. Both Dell and HP are looking to tap 3Par's storage provisioning and management expertise as one leg of an integrated infrastructure portfolio -- the other legs being servers and networking. Companies with this kind of expertise in-house will be able to provide not only the platforms to allow others to deliver IaaS services, but become service providers themselves.
The continued focus on IaaS and other services points up the fact that in the age of the cloud, nobody really cares about underlying physical infrastructure. It's not so much what you have under the hood anymore, but what you can do with it.
The one who delivers the most compelling services gets the brass ring.