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Cloud Computing: A Taxonomy of Platform and Infrastructure-level Offerings

Cloud computing is a buzzword and umbrella term applied to several nascent trends in the turbulent landscape of information technology. Computing in the “cloud” alludes to ubiquitous and inexhaustible on-demand IT resources accessible through the Internet. Practically every new Internet-based service from Gmail to Amazon Web Services to Microsoft Online Services to even Facebook have been labeled “cloud” offerings, either officially or externally.

Although cloud computing has garnered significant interest, factors such as unclear terminology, non-existent product “paper launches”, and opportunistic marketing have led to a significant lack of clarity surrounding discussions of cloud computing technology and products. The need for clarity is well-recognized within the industry and by industry observers. Perhaps more importantly, due to the relative infancy of the industry, currently-available product offerings are not standardized. Neither providers nor potential consumers really know what a “good” cloud computing product offering should look like and what classes of products are appropriate. Consequently, products are not easily comparable.

The scope of various product offerings differ and overlap in complicated ways for example, Amazon’s EC2 service and Google’s App Engine partially overlap in scope and applicability. EC2 is more flexible but also lower-level, while App Engine subsumes some functionality in Amazon Web Services suite of offerings external to EC2. On balance, App Engine incorporates that functionality at the expense of being less general-purpose and more tightly integrated. Differences such as these make comparisons between products difficult; it is unclear how the major products fit into the greater universe of offerings and what axes of comparison are appropriate.

The goal of this study is to perform a detailed survey of different offerings to classify and clarify the commonalities and differences along various product dimensions. The objects of analysis in this work are products and not their component technologies in a vacuum. Clarifying the relationship of the various cloud computing products will allow both consumers and service providers to assess their current and planned future offerings in light of their desired properties and marketplace positioning.

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Cloud Computing: A Taxonomy of Platform and Infrastructure-level Offerings