So the question then is, what is a Cloud Operating System? Does it exists or perhaps the question should be, Can it exists?
Maybe one needs to take a step back and first look at the definition of an Operating System (OS).
An OS is essentially an abstraction layer on top of Hardware (HW) that provides the necessary interfaces to get the work done required by computer Programs or Applications. This abstraction layer or OS essentially manage all the underlying HW (Storage, Networking, Compute, Memory etc) in a transparent.
Let’s look at the definition of an Operating System? Wikipedia defines it as, “software, consisting of programs and data, that runs on computers, manages computer hardware resources, and provides common services for execution of various application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system. Without an operating system, a user cannot run an application program on their computer, unless the application program is self booting.” -wikipedia
So if one has to use the description of an OS as described above and apply it to the Could environment then the definition could look like this “A Cloud Operating System (COS) is an Operating System, consisting of data and programs which runs on IaaS (Infrastucture as a Service) manages the Infrastucture resources, and provides common services for execution of various application software and SaaS (Software as a Service).
The question, is today’s OS’es that is available a true COS or will there be a new true COS born?
What is clear is that the COS is the most important type of system software in a Cloud Computing system, nothing is possible without the COS.
What about Platform as a Service (PaaS)? does this perhaps fill the gap of a COS? Well in my opinion the normal OS systems we have today is still far more flexible than the coined PaaS of today.
A COS must be able to allow the Applications to be scale-able as more users comes online or utilizing the new HW as it is made available. This of course must all happen seamlessly independent of the Application or HW.
There are many services claiming to have a COS i.e. Cloud Foundry, and also Google offers a similar service known as Google App Engine, Microsoft serves up Windows Azure and Salesforce now owns Heroku, a San Francisco startup that helped pioneer the idea.
The above is called “Platform Clouds,” or “Platform-as-a-Service” and must therefore not to be confused with “Infrastructure Clouds” such as Amazon EC2.
There are are some distinct differences, EC2 provides you with raw resources for running Applications, including virtual servers and storage, whereas a Platform Cloud hides all of this and runs on top of a Infrastructure Cloud, providing one with tools to create Applications while taking care of the rest underneath the covers.
Will we therefore see a true new COS been born in the near future or will it only be an adoption of the current OS’es into Cloud Computing?