Cloud Computing Ontology

Cloud Categories

 There are three families of clouds. They were given Latin names by Luke Howard in 1804. They are Cirrus (curl of hair), Cumulus (heap) and Stratus (layers). There are 10 main types of clouds made up of combinations of these families. Clouds are also grouped by their height above the ground. Each cloud carries a message about the weather to come, so meteorologists use clouds to help them make forecasts.  


The following is a description of each different type of cloud: click on the names of the clouds to see an example of each.

Cirrus High, ice-crystal clouds which look like wispy curls of hair, often the first signs of approaching weather changes.
Cirrocumulus Often called a “mackerel sky”; the clouds’ ripples of cloud looks like fish scales, indicating unsettled weather.
Cirrostratus Sheets of thin, milk-colored clouds which form high up and often bring rain or snow within twenty-four hours. They often cause the sun or moon to appear to have a halo around it.
Altostratus Layers of thin, gray clouds which can grow into rain clouds.
Altocumulus Fluffy waves of gray clouds which can bring showers or break up to give sunny periods.
Nimbostratus Thick, dark gray masses of clouds which can bring rain or snow. “Nimbus” means rain in Latin.
Stratus Low, gray blankets of clouds which often bring drizzle, can cover high ground and cause hill fog.
Stratocumulus Uneven rolls or patches of clouds across the sky which follow a storm and are usually a sign that drier weather is on the way.
Cumulus Clearly defined puffs of fluffy clouds that look like “cauliflowers”. They appear in sunny, summer skies. In the morning, they precede a storm, in the afternoon they follow a storm.
Cumulonimbus These are towering clouds which usually bring thunderstorms with rain, snow or hail.

Now that cloud computing is becoming mainstream and cloud computing is well on its way to the trough of disillusionment we can consider how we will address this technology in such a way that we can talk about it with a cloud reference.   For example, are we calling IaaS  or Infrastructure as a Service a Stratus stack?   Are the characteristics of the computing models going to be associated with the taxonomy of clouds?

 I ask this question because I think it is important as we move ahead with our technical strategies.  It seems that the great technical strategists of our time are always trying to come up with new words or terms for old concepts in order to bring new life to old ideas.  Cloud computing is not a new idea.  Sure there is new tech out there but is this about technology?

I have already seen vendors capitalizing on the cloud terminology, such as White Stratus of course good old IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.  They all created the cloud.   I apologize for being a little sarcastic but part of the problem here is that in the spirit of “the sale” vendors aren’t trying to provide the real solution.   I am not going to digress here any further. 

So here is a 2009 article of interest by Kevin Jackson that discusses the concepts of architectural ontologies in relation to cloud computing.

I set the title of this post as cloud computing ontology as well but maybe for a different reason than Kevin wrote about.  [The original hypothesis of the early 2000’s was that] interoperability and standardization we must have governance. [Governance is kin to control. No one is going to give up control.] It is something that everyone talks about but few follow up on. [Thus, interoperability starts occuring from the other direction. Commerce.] The result is that you have success by popularity [and we find ourselves suddenly in the 3rd phase of the hype cycle.]  People take what they want from cloud computing tech. Slap it into something never originally considered (i.e., an iPad with WiFi), and presto! Phase 3.  The result is that you have success by popularity.    That can’t work in all situations because it isn’t practical when there are already rules of constraint.   Facebook is very popular and today is work about 50 Billion dollars.  It didn’t become a success because of standards. It became a success because of usage.  Do you think that Facebook would have been successful as a military capability?   Do you think Facebook would have even worked?   I don’t think so.  

There are some standards on the internet that are foundational like http.  These are the equivalent to NTSC for broadcasting television.  Sure there are technologies that are added like flash and silverlight and java but fundamentally there is a standard that allows us to see webpages.  For the technosavvy I am keeping this simple, we know there is more to it.    The thing is we still as a community need to define services and capabilities from a logical high level.  We need to have rules, standards and governance.  

SOA was and is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts of our time with respect to technology.   People think it is a thing.   What do you think will happen with cloud computing?  It is more than a thing as well.  It is a bunch of things wrapped up and packaged.  

The Federal CIO announced that the government should move to a cloud model.   They don’t know how but they know that is what they want.  With no standards of practice, how do they know what they want?  

I think we need an international body that is not for profit to standardize and define terminology for cloud concepts.   If we don’t have this body we will have cloud computing as we have SOA today.  It will be a great idea that kinda happened.

Additional Edits by Matt Sutton

One thought on “Cloud Computing Ontology

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