5 Features that Make a Cloud Service

During a break at a cloud research conference I recently attended at Rutgers University, I was asked what cloud services I thought consumers would buy.  My first reaction was that consumers don’t buy cloud services just because they are cloud-based and certainly not because “the cloud” is the hot new services delivery paradigm.

Consumers buy and use services delivered over the Internet because they fulfill a particular need that they have, both when the service or application is free to the consumer (think Twitter, Google, and Facebook) or involves a cost (think eBay or Amazon).

My second thought was that consumers are already very accustomed to using cloud services, maybe even more so than many businesses are.  And the typical consumer (let’s admit it – if you are reading this blog you are most likely not the typical non-technical consumer) probably would give you a quizzical look if you told them that they were using cloud services.  But, they – and you – have been using what we would now call cloud services ever since they could dial a telephone.  Or access an ISP splash portal.  Although they were not called “cloud services”.   They were just services.

However, by the NIST definition of what a cloud service is:

  1. On-demand self-service
  2. Broad network access
  3. Resource pooling
  4. Rapid elasticity
  5. Measured service

Consumers are using cloud services all the time and making it a way of life.  They are just not asking to have the technical nitty-gritty of the service provision explained to them.

When was the last time that the typical consumer asked about how the Network Interface Device (NID) on the side of their house or the various green (at least in my neighborhood) boxes serve to connect them to the phone and cable networks?  They don’t ask about  how that cell tower really connects their mobile device to the telephone network or Internet.  All that matters to consumers is that they work as promised.

So, the net result of this is that, as consumers, we all are cloud services users and younger generations are growing up taking the availability of the Internet and access to network-based services for granted.  Whether it is shopping, connecting with friends, playing games, accessing email, reading the news, or just editing and saving documents, the consumer cloud is a way of life.  And the business cloud is rapidly catching on, too.

So, what is your opinion – is consumer experience using cloud services without explicitly calling them “cloud services” eventually going to spill over into and have an impact on the business arena as the current generation takes their consumer experiences with them into the workplace?  Do you think that as businesses become more comfortable using cloud services and settle on a set of trusted providers, they will become less concerned with how the services are provided and instead focus on metrics such as reliability, performance, and breadth of available services?  We value your comments and thoughts.  Please leave a comment here so others can benefit from your experience.

Michael Weinstein Product Development Director AT&T About Michael