Cloud Cheat Sheet: 5 Building Blocks, 3 Service Models and 4 Deployment Models

You want to get started on your Cloud roadmap, but with all of the options and opinions available it’s hard to determine exactly which approach is best for your organization.

You have read white papers, blogs, newsletters, tweets and articles all explaining different approaches to: IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, hybrid cloud, private cloud, migrating to the cloud, securing the cloud, desktop virtualization, app virtualization, storage virtualization, roadblocks, strategies, hardware foundations, disaster recovery and budget, budget, budget!

Don’t you wish you could get all that information in one place?

Using the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) definition of Cloud Computing as a reference, I have compiled a cheat sheet outlining the 5 building blocks, 3 service models and 4 deployment models of Cloud Computing.

The NIST is responsible for developing standards and guidelines, including minimum requirements for providing accurate information security for Federal Agency operations and assets.  Although it’s mostly for Federal Agency use, the intended audience is system planners, program managers, technologists and others adopting cloud computing as consumers or providers of cloud services.

So here they are in one place – the fundamentals of Cloud Computing:

Building blocks:

1. On-demand self-service. A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.

2. Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations).

3. Resource pooling. The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state, or datacenter). Examples of resources include storage, processing, memory, and network bandwidth.

4. Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.

5. Measured service. Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability1 at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.

Service models:

1. Software as a Service (SaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure.2 The applications are accessible from various client devices through either a thin client interface, such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email), or a program interface. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings.

2. Platform as a Service (PaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider.3 The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment.

3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, and deployed applications; and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls).

Deployment methods:

1. Private cloud. The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization comprising multiple consumers (e.g., business units). It may be owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.

2. Community cloud. The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations in the community, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.

3.Public cloud. The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for open use by the general public. It may be owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organization, or some combination of them. It exists on the premises of the cloud provider.

4. Hybrid cloud. The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).

I hope you have found this cheat sheet helpful. Ready to size your cloud? Read our next Cloud Cheat Sheet: Everything you need to know about sizing your Cloud environment post. Want to keep reading? Learn about HP’s pre-configured cloud offerings by reading Sizing your Cloud? Try a pre-configured virtualization setup  or Focus on IaaS services you actually want to deliver . If you have any additional questions or terms to add, please leave a note in the comments section!


1 Typically this is done on a pay-per-use or charge –per-use basis
2 A cloud infrastructure is the collection of hardware and software that enables the five essential characteristics of cloud computing. The cloud infrastructure can be viewed as containing both a physical layer and an abstraction layer. The physical layer consists of the hardware resources that are necessary to support the cloud services being provided, and typically includes server, storage and network components. The abstraction layer consists of the software deployed across the physical layer, which manifests the essential cloud characteristics. Conceptually the abstraction layer sits above the physical layer.
3 This capability does not necessarily preclude the use of compatible programming languages, libraries, services, and tools from other sources.

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About Emily A. Davidson

Emily is the Content Marketing Lead for servers, storage, networking, security and enterprise software at Softchoice. She blends her background in creative writing and B2B marketing with an insatiable curiosity about the potential of social and virtualized business.