Cloud computing market is starting to look a lot like one big data center

Infrastructure, apps, utilities, plumbing are all there, all owned by different companies

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If you bend down to get too close to the box full of Layer 5 mice, the unicorn protecting them – which wears a name tag that reads Hello, My Name is Glitter – will poke you a lot harder in the backside than something named Glitter should be able to manage. Those horns weren’t made for stirring Jello, though, so be careful.

Layer 6 encrypts, decrypts, wraps, unwraps and presents all the nasty foreign bits you packetized and sent over so one of the apps can do something about it. It also lives in every cloud that runs apps, whether SAAS or IAAS, all of them have one. Some just tape and tuck a little better than others.

Among the best is Microsoft's Azure and the rest of the platform as a service (PAAS) crowd. PAAS is exactly like renting a server you can run an app on without ever having to touch the server. Everything below the Run button is taken care of by someone else.

A lot of companies don't like how little control that gives them, so Microsoft added more ability to manage individual apps, change the amount of memory or disk space or glitter any given app gets, to let customers tune the performance they get. It's still basically a generic Windows server you rent straight from Microsoft, though.

Layer 7 is a whole market segment – the Apps Layer. SAAS is all layer 7. So are all the apps are available as software as a service, run on Infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service, hide data in storage as a Service, let users talk about it over Unified Communications as a Service or Videoconferencing as a service and even keep their strength up using location-sensitive dietary supply operations specializing in Italian, Chinese or even American nutritional products in the burgeoning Lunch Delivery as a Service.

Who cares if THE CLOUD is really IT? Just ignore it (IT); just like at work.

Don't let it all scare you. It's perfectly OK that the Cloud is actually made up of networks and data centers and that even that, looked at as a whole, the cloud-computing market is starting to look more and more like one giant, highly distributed data center.

That's what it's supposed to look like if you see it on a sunny, dry day – acres of data centers with expert running them, so anyone who wants a few petaflops of shallow, short-term joy can get what they think they need without commitment or responsibility.

It's just important to remember what you're getting into. Exactly the same thing you're getting out of: computers, storage, applications security, way too much air conditioning that, inexplicably, doesn't work.

And geeks. Lots of geeks. They're there to feed the machines. To make sure the machines don't eat the users. Just as they are inside corporate data centers.

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