Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Kevin Jackson, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Bob Gourley

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Government Cloud

@CloudExpo: Article

An Inconvenient Truth of the NIST Definition of Cloud Computing

The classification and some definitions of the four deployment models are redundant and inconsistent

Amid the many benefits of having the NIST SP 800-145 as a tool to facilitate the understanding of cloud computing, the classification and some definitions of the four deployment models are redundant and inconsistent. Particularly, the definition of "community cloud" is a redundancy of that of a private cloud, the deployment models are defined with two sets of criteria, and "hybrid cloud" is a confusing, ambiguous, and extraneous term.

SP 800-145 is the de facto standard in the IT industry of describing what cloud computing is with five essential characteristics, three delivery methods, and four deployment models. The five essential characteristics will specify the qualifications and expected behaviors of an object qualified with the term cloud. The three delivery methods signify the essence of cloud computing centered on the concept of a "service." Both the characteristics and the delivery methods in SP 800-145 form a solid foundation and present a conceptual model envisioning what cloud computing is and about. SP 800-145 gets inconvenient where the four deployment models including public, community, private, and hybrid clouds are defined, as shown below.

The Premise
Reviewing the definitions of the first three deployment models, there is a common theme. Among public, community, and private clouds, the classification is based on the intended audiences whom a cloud with its resources is dedicated to. Namely, a public cloud is intended to be consumed by the general public and a private cloud is dedicated to a single organization, i.e., for a targeted group of users. SP 800-145 classifies a private cloud and a public cloud with consistent criteria.

It is important to recognize that building a cloud with owned hardware does not default it as a private cloud of the owner's, while a cloud with accessibility via the Internet or operated by an internet service provider does not automatically make it a public cloud either. Again, the intended audiences determine it is a private or public cloud. Although many seem to default a private cloud as an on-premise deployment to owned hardware, this is nonetheless not a requirement of a private cloud.

Further "public" here does not suggest that it is free or accessible anonymously. It simply means the cloud is dedicated for the general public to consume, while there can be business or administrative restrictions imposed. Microsoft Office 365, available based on a subscription, and Hotmail, requiring a Live ID to sign, are vivid examples of public cloud offerings with restrictions.

Inconvenience #1: The classification of "community cloud" is extraneous.
A community cloud according to 800-145 is a cloud for a specific community of consumers from organizations. As far as a member of the associated community is concerned, a community cloud is indeed a private cloud for that particular community. The number of the organizations and the administrative boundaries encompassing a community are irrelevant since from a private cloud's view point, an authorized user is an authorized user regardless which organization one belongs to. A cloud for a community of users from either various departments, business units within a company or business partners from companies in many parts of the world is essentially a private cloud dedicated for that community.

Inconvenience #2: Using two sets of criteria to define cloud deployment models roots inconsistency and ambiguity.
As defined in SP 800-145, a hybrid cloud is a composition of infrastructures, yet at the same time a private cloud and a public cloud are defined according to their intended audiences. The change of criteria in classifying a hybrid cloud roots inconsistency and ambiguity in the deployment models presented in SP 800-145. Forming a concept with two sets of criteria is simply a confusing way to describe an already very confusing subject like cloud computing.

Inconvenience #3: "Hybrid cloud" is an ambiguous, confusing, and frequently misused term.
A hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) as stated in SP 800-145. That is to say that a hybrid cloud can be a composition of private/private, private/community, private/public, etc. From a consumer's point of view, they are in essence a private cloud, a private cloud, and a public or private cloud, respectively. Regardless of how a hybrid cloud is constructed, if it is intended for public consumption it is a public cloud, and if for a particular group of people it is then a private cloud according to SP 800-145. Essentially the composition of clouds is still a cloud and it is either a public or private cloud, and cannot be both at the same time.

For many enterprise IT professionals, a hybrid cloud means an on-premise private cloud connected with some off-premise resources. Notice these off-premise resources are not necessarily in reality a cloud. In such cases, it is simply a private cloud with some extended boundaries. A cloud is a set of capabilities and must be referenced in the context of the delivered application. Just placing a VM in the cloud or referencing a database placed in the cloud does not make the VM or the database a public cloud application.

The key is that a hybrid cloud is a derived concept of clouds. Namely, a hybrid can be integrations, modifications, extensions, or a combination of all of the cloud infrastructures. A hybrid is nevertheless not a new concept or a different deployment model and should not be classified as a unique deployment model in addition to the two essential ones, i.e., the public and private cloud models. A cloud is either public or private and there isn't a third kind of cloud deployment model based on the intended users.

"Hybrid cloud" is perhaps a great catchy marketing term. For many, a hybrid seems to suggest it is advanced, leading edge, and magical, and therefore better and preferred. The truth is "hybrid cloud" is an ambiguous, confusing, and frequently misused term. It confuses people, interjects noises into a conversation, and only to further confirm the state of confusion and inability to clearly understand what cloud computing is.

More Stories By Yung Chou

Yung Chou is a Technology Evangelist in Microsoft. Within the company, he has had opportunities serving customers in the areas of support account management, technical support, technical sales, and evangelism. Prior to Microsoft, he had established capacities in system programming, application development, consulting services, and IT management. His recent technical focuses have been in virtualization and cloud computing with strong interests in hybrid cloud and emerging enterprise computing architecture. He is a frequent speaker in Microsoft conferences, roadshow, and TechNet events.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, discussed the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filterin...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"C2M is our digital transformation and IoT platform. We've had C2M on the market for almost three years now and it has a comprehensive set of functionalities that it brings to the market," explained Mahesh Ramu, Vice President, IoT Strategy and Operations at Plasma, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Traditional IT, great for stable systems of record, is struggling to cope with newer, agile systems of engagement requirements coming straight from the business. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, William Morrish, General Manager of Product Sales at Interoute, outlined ways of exploiting new architectures to enable both systems and building them to support your existing platforms, with an eye for the future. Technologies such as Docker and the hyper-convergence of computing, networking and sto...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
It’s 2016: buildings are smart, connected and the IoT is fundamentally altering how control and operating systems work and speak to each other. Platforms across the enterprise are networked via inexpensive sensors to collect massive amounts of data for analytics, information management, and insights that can be used to continuously improve operations. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Chemel, Co-Founder and CTO of Digital Lumens, will explore: The benefits sensor-networked systems bring to ...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
Much of IT terminology is often misused and misapplied. Modernization and transformation are two such terms. They are often used interchangeably even though they mean different things and have very different connotations. Indeed, it is somewhat safe to assume that in IT any transformative effort is likely to also have a modernizing effect, and thus, we can see these as levels of improvement efforts. However, many businesses are being led to believe if they don’t transform now they risk becoming ...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.