The Cloud Computing Mind Map

By George Reese
June 30, 2010 | Comments: 5

Getting your brain around all of the components of cloud computing is a huge challenge. There are so many players, and a number of them are performing functions entirely new to IT. A few months ago, I put together a mind map of the cloud computing space I use to help people understand this space. It's reached a level of maturity that I now feel it appropriate to share it with a wider audience.


The Cloud Stack

I have already written a blog entry on the cloud stack. This mind map mostly matches what I wrote in that article, though some of my thinking has evolved since then. First, the layer I used to call "orchestration" seems to be settling down as "cloud operating system". I dislike the term cloud operating system, but I'm not going to tilt against that windmill. Because I operate in the cloud management space, the details in cloud management are the most evolved.

Types of Clouds

There's nothing surprising in the list of types of clouds. I do further break down IaaS into Storage and Compute. I don't think that's terribly controversial.

Deployment Models

This area is straight from the NIST cloud computing definition. I'm done fighting the cloud definition wars. I'm all for taking the NIST definition and moving on with our lives. As a result, my cloud mind map takes the NIST definition as a given. I left out community clouds. I don't think they are that interesting, but that doesn't contradict NIST. It's just a willful omission.


The characteristics, as well, come straight from the NIST definition without any of the willful omissions.

Benefits and Barriers

I am sure I have left out items relevant to both the benefits and barriers of cloud computing. Perhaps the most interesting choice I made was including security as both a benefit and a barrier. I would guess most people think of security as a self-evident barrier to cloud computing. My view on security as a barrier is much more complex. I would, however, argue that security is actually a benefit of cloud computing. But that argument is for another blog entry.

George Reese is the author of Cloud Application Architectures: Building Applications and Infrastructure in the Cloud.

If you're involved in planning IT infrastructure as a network or system architect, system administrator, or developer, this book will help you adapt your skills to work with these highly scalable, highly redundant infrastructure services. Cloud Application Architectures will help you determine whether and how to put your applications into these virtualized services, with critical guidance on issues of cost, availability, performance, scaling, privacy, and security.

The other benefits are fairly straightforward. On the barriers side, I opted to include jobs as one of the barriers. The cloud can represent a perceived (and in some cases, real) threat to IT jobs. Because of the threat to jobs, some people are reluctant to adopt cloud computing.


I know for every vendor I have properly included here, there are 10 or 20 I left out that probably should be included. I apologize in advance for the omission. The purpose of the Vendors section is not to be comprehensive, but to help people intimidated by all of the "cloud" vendors to start making sense of where vendors fit in the scheme of things.

I had the hardest time classifying Cisco, CloudSwitch, and CohesiveFT. Cisco is everything and nothing all at once in the cloud space. CloudSwitch and CohesiveFT are in some sense competitive offerings with one another and in another sense very different. I'm not sure what you call the space they occupy. Network cloudification platforms? Cloud transplant tools? I don't know, but I do know they don't fit neatly into the rest of the picture I have painted.


The Projects section of the mind map goes through the elements of executing on a cloud-based project. It starts from the cloud decision and moves through managing a production cloud deployment. I think a lot more work needs to be done fleshing this part of the mind map out.

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Hi George,

You may be interested in an alternative (and prior to NIST's) definition of Community Clouds. The paper we had published is up at arxiv:

Hi George,

Thanks for the mindl map, is what I needed to clarify the most important topics of cloud computing.

Best Regards,

Fantastic Representation using a mind map. A great application of mind mapping.



Configuration Management:

* "Puppet" should be "Puppet Labs" since you are listing company names and not products.

* CFengine should absolutely be under 'Configuration Management'

a nice representation and useful.

thanks. i am spreading the news so more people view this

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