The “Functional” vs. “Resources” Cloud

Some of the work we’ve been doing around our own cloud computing offerings, and those by our competitors, has gotten me thinking. It seems there are two buckets, or types of clouds, that are emerging that the majority of offerings can be categorized in.

On the one hand you have the “functional” cloud, which by that I mean thinking of the cloud as sets of functionality – such as data transfer, accessing files and altering fields, etc. – that can be executed anywhere or anytime without having to worry about the underlying resources. This would include Amazon’s S3 platform.

The other is the “resource” cloud, which would include examples such as Eucalyptus or Amazon’s EC2 platform. These are more in line with the concept of utility computing. You turn on computing resources just the same you’d turn on the faucet for water. These are examples where users can actually create virtual machines and partition the underlying computing resources accordingly or as their business requirements see fit.

With the “functional” cloud, users are delivered the convenience via point solutions without having to worry about how it’s done, but at the same time, without as firm an understanding of the underlying processes as the “resources” cloud, and the power and advantages that are associated with it.

All in all, I expect we’ll continue to see a lot of growth across both types in the coming year or two, and plenty of successes and failures as vendors and customers learn how to leverage both to their fullest.