This realization came in a discussion on the Google Cloud Interoperability Forum, in a thread discussing the recently published paper "Toward a Unified Ontology of Cloud Computing" by Lamia Yousef (UCSB), Maria Butrico and Dilma Da Silva (IBM Research) (here's the paper), discussed in John Willis' blog post. To this was added another more detailed ontology / taxonomy of Cloud Computing by Christopher Hoff in his blog, which has attracted enough comments to now be at version 1.3.
Here are the key figures from Yousef's presentation, and Hoff, in that order (I used the figure in Willis' blog):
When I look at these diagrams, I think there's something strange going on here. Nothing leaps out at me taxonomically / ontologically / structurally, in either of the two organizations, that causes either one of them to specifically describe a cloud.
They look like a generic ontology / taxonomy / structure / whatever attempting to cover all the conceivable contents of any IT shop, cloud or not.
Does "cloud" just mean you do such a generic description, and then at every useful point of entry, just add "aaS"? ("aaS" = "as a Service," as in: Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, etc. ad nauseam.)
Maybe... that actually is what "cloud" means: *aaS.
I don't recall anybody trying to restrict what their cloud notions cover, in general -- everyone wants to be able to do it all. This means that the natural thing to do is try to define "it all," and then aaS it.
If the cloud community is unwilling or unable to accept any restrictions on what Cloud Computing may be or may do, and I can't imagine anything that conceivably enforce any such restrictions, I think that may be inevitable.
Anything-you-can-thing-of-aaS as a definition isn't very much help to anybody wanting to find out what all the Cloud Computing hype may actually mean, of course, whether it is or isn't the same as a Grid, etc.. I'm working up to a future post on that, but I have to find a particular philosophico-logical term first, though. (That search has nothing to do with "ontology," in case you were wondering. It's a name for a type of definition that comes out of Thomas Aquinas, I think.)
(P.S.: Yeah, still doing software / cloud postings. Gotta get some hardware in here.)