Anyone who has taken high school biology knows that mammals are bound together by some key characteristics. If you’re like me, you were taught that mammals are warm-blooded, have fur, give birth to live young, and have mammary glands.

What if I told you that was wrong?

I’m sure you’ve looked at a duck-billed platypus and thought to yourself, “It lays eggs. I guess the exception proves the rule.”  Turns out, it’s not an exception because what really makes a mammal a mammal doesn’t exactly match up with what I learned in school.

Why am I sharing this story?

I’ve been talking a lot about the characteristics that make a cloud a cloud. The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines a cloud as “…a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

But, I hear a lot from clients and enterprises looking at cloud that they’re willing to give up some of those things because they have other, more important requirements. As an example, if a client wants a hosted private cloud of resources that is shared by its applications, they would accept that the underlying assets would be, in fact, pre-provisioned for their use. If they give up one characteristic or another, are they giving up cloud altogether?

As organizations test their use of the cloud, they’re not launching every enterprise IT project into a full on cloud production mode. It’s a change in the way they are evaluating infrastructure projects and the way they approach IT refresh. It’s an evolution, if you will.

Speaking of evolution, we return to the mammalians, who don’t actually share all that many commonalities. Generally speaking, there aren’t many details in the fossil record that indicate warm bloodedness or the presence of fur. The fossil record does show that the middle ear of all mammals is made up of the same three bones. That’s what links you to the platypus.

What does your cloud evolution look like? Are you ready to shed your dedicated infrastructure?