In this series of posts I’m going to expose and discuss the opportunities and challenges of Cloud Computing as they are seen now.
First of all, we have to quickly define the different types of actors as each of them will not have the same expectations and concerns. The Cloud Computing ecosystem is represented on the following figure (each actor relies on the others below):
Editors and Hardware Vendors
Editors and Hardware vendors are pervasively present in the ecosystem. They provide hardware and software solutions to the other actors. Cloud is nothing new for them (in term of business), except that it brings technical innovation and a potential new market to address with new products. That’s why I’m not going to discuss this type of actor any more in the next articles.
The pure provider
The pure provider is, as its name states, an actor who provides the complete service stack he sells. As he relies on no other one, this type of actor has to provide at least Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). He could also possibly provide other types of services relying on its infrastructure (Software as a Service or Platform as a Service).
The pure provider deals with a unique concern in the cloud ecosystem. Whereas cloud computing is heavily based on virtual resources and flexibility, the pure provider has the responsibility to manage a real infrastructure (I mean physically manage hardware, cables, square meters in datacenters, etc …). He is the only one in the ecosystem who deals with the infrastructure investment (and risks!) as others are going to rely on him to provide computing resources.
The pure consumer
The pure consumer uses the services provided by others. As he provides no service, he stands ‘at the end’ of the ecosystem and is the opposite of the pure provider; that is, he fully benefits from the Cloud Computing ecosystem without having to bear a specific investment.
The hybrid provider
This actor provides services to external customers, but he also consumes services offered by others; to develop a new service, the hybrid provider relies on another external service. For instance, the hybrid provider could develop a PaaS offer and rely on a IaaS provider who will supply the processing power. This enables the hybrid provider either to concentrate on its core business or to test the success of the offer before investing in hardware hosting (investment deferring).
The hybrid provider’s business model is to sell services.
The hybrid consumer
The hybrid consumer is very similar to the hybrid provider. He consumes services but uses them to provide the internal services needed by the business.
The typical hybrid consumer is the IT department of a large business. Its business model is not to literally ‘sell’ services outside.
As you may already have guessed, the hybrid provider and consumer are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, they both ‘resell’ the service they buy to their own consumers and they must provide the same pay as you go billing system. I’m using the word ‘billing’ on purpose, even if it may seem inappropriate for the hybrid consumer. But as we are going to discuss in another post, even internal consumer should be billed for their use of the services.
In the upcoming articles, we are going to discuss cloud opportunities and challenges for each type of actor.