CIOs should recognise the different types of cloud computing before they embark on a cloud project. That's according to Forrester Research which has just produced a report looking at the types of cloud technology that are available. The Cloud Computing Q3 report says that the number one challenge in cloud computing today is determining what it really is. 

The company has defined 11 service categories that fall into three classes of cloud services:

  • Rented software
  • Application services that allow developers to build platforms
  • Infrastructure services

Author of the report, Forrester analyst James Staten said that vendors' statements about cloud had contributed to the confusion with companies using the term indiscriminately. " We call it ‘cloudwashing'" he said. Staten said that Forrester had tried to distinguish between genuine cloud services and those pre-existing services that had been ‘cloudwashed'. "A true cloud service has two features: does it include an element of self-service provisioning and does it include ‘pay-per-use'. Many vendors claim to offer cloud services but their offerings only contain one of these elements," he said.

The paradox for Staten that such attempts by vendors to rebadged their services is not playing well with their target market - the large enterprises. "Enterprise customers are not attracted by this re-labelling To my mind it's like a well-known folk singer striking out in a new direction and doing hip-hop - no matter how well he does it, it's not what he was known for and it's not going to appeal to his target audience."

There companies who have grasped the nature of cloud computing said Staten and are offering genuine cloud services. He said Amazon was one as was Savvis, a company that quickly realised that companies wanted a cloud just for them and have gone after the high-end hosting market.

But Staten pointed out that cloud computing could have fundamental changes in the way that companies do business. "What cloud computing has created, said Staten, is a new opportunity for enterprises to work in a different way. "It's way too easy for business unit developers to by-pass their own IT departments and go straight to Amazon. And as long as the IT department is more expensive and less responsive that's what they'll do."

Forrester is an exclusive partner with CIO UK and provides analysis reports in our Leadership channel.