Last week, I introduced the idea of cloud computing. I shared a podcast featuring my colleague Don Rippert, who spoke about cloud computing in the enterprise.

Download the video transcript here.

Today, I would like to elaborate more on the first two types of cloud computing: the infrastructure (storage) cloud and the hardware (environment) cloud.

The infrastructure cloud

The infrastructure cloud is sometimes called the storage cloud. This is the simplest kind of cloud computing, and is the electronic equivalent of a storage locker.

For example, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is a storage capability targeted at developers. It provides a web-based interface that allows users to store and retrieve data.

There are several benefits to using this type of cloud:

  • Your business simply rents storage space as it is needed, eliminating the need to worry about whether you have enough data storage.
  • These services are scalable. In most cases, you simply pay for space as you use it. This means that if your data storage needs spike in one month but dip in another, you are only charged for the usage that you incur.
  • These services are amenable to a dispersed workforce. It eliminates the need for workers to store data on their local machines and allows people to share and access key documents, regardless of geographic location.

However, the infrastructure cloud is limited in its capabilities. It does not provide computing power or a platform for applications. It is simply a place to store data.

The platform cloud

The platform cloud is also called an environmental cloud or a hardware cloud. One step up from the infrastructure cloud, this type of cloud computing acts as a virtual server and provides compute capabilities. It provides a place where you can build, but not run, applications.

For example, Amazon provides a hardware cloud through its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) that provides scalable compute capability in the cloud.

The benefits to using a platform cloud:

  • Your business simply rents server space as it is needed, eliminating the need to manage and maintain physical servers.
  • As with infrastructure cloud computing, these services are scalable. Your business pays for actual usage.


The platform cloud provides more capabilities than the infrastructure cloud. However, it’s still not as robust as application clouds or process clouds, which I’ll discuss next week.

Does your business use infrastructure or platform cloud computing? Does it meet your needs, or do you think a different type of cloud computing would be more appropriate?

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