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Avoid using the term "Cloud Computing" except when being ironic

I've stopped using the term "Cloud Computing" except when referring to the general trend. I use SaaS, IaaS and PaaS so that I say exactly what I mean. As a technical person this helps me keep my conversation succinct and focused.

  • SaaS: Software as a Service:, Google Apps, etc.
  • PaaS: Platform as a Service: Google App Engine and similar systems.
  • IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service: Amazon EC2, Eucalyptus, etc.

Or, if you want a way to remember it easier:

  • SaaS: It's a web site!
  • PaaS: It's a framework!
  • IaaS: It's a VM!

"Cloud" is what marketing and non-technical people use. I'm ok with that.

And one more thing. I've found this article is good for giving to managers and other people that need to understand the terminology and get up to speed on what's happening: Communications of the ACM: A View of Cloud Computing

Posted by Tom Limoncelli


And whats the correct term for personal cloud computing lke eyeos?

Hi Tom,

I completely agree. My feeling is that sometimes it may seem cute/funny/cool to use imprecise language in a professional sysadmin context (eg: with other sysadmins), but often it just comes back to bite us.

However, the way you order the various "* as a Service"s strikes me as a bit off. When I think/talk about this, I tend to order the *aaSes in terms of "thickness", eg:

  • either:
    • SaaS
    • PaaS
    • IaaS
  • or:
    • IaaS
    • PaaS
    • SaaS

To me, that most accurately represents the continuum between the control you retain and the tasks you outsource, or however you choose to view the spectrum (control, simplicity, effort, etc).

The way I see it: It doesn't matter whether you start the list with SaaS or IaaS as long as SaaS is at one end of the list, IaaS is at the other end, and PaaS is in the middle.

Your thoughts?


Good point. I'll re-order them based on thickness.

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What does something like Twilio fall under? IaaS, right? So maybe your way of remembering IaaS needs updating, because the I in IaaS by no means has to mean VM.

Twilio appears to be a framework. Could even be software either way its a long way from the bare metal of a VM. I also think most people would see the 3 descriptions as a continuum - but again in Twilio's case it sure appears to at the thicker end.