What Is an assembly line?
By Ephraim Baron
Any student of industrial history can tell you about the assembly line. Pioneered by Ford Motor Company, the idea was to improve manufacturing by division and optimization of labor. One of the keys to the assembly line’s success was the concept of interchangeability – the ability to make parts identical to the point that one could be swapped with another without impacting system quality.
In the software world, assembly lines and interchangeability morphed into software engineering and code reusability. Rather than hand-crafting every module and routine, a software coder relies on libraries of pre-built modules to assemble a finished product. Close examination of almost any codebase reveals that only a small fraction is original, but it forms the central glue that ties together the pre-built parts.
Fast-forward to today’s world of cloud computing and we find analogies to both manufacturing and coding. The focus of cloud providers today is to build highly-functional parts that can be consumed as services. By combining these services we can build, in essence, an information technology assembly line.
(Everything) as a Service
Cloud purists – if they exist in such a nascent world – divide the cloud into three main groupings:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – Abstracted facilities, compute, storage, and networking serving as a foundation for computing platforms
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – A development platform including database, runtime, and development tools used to build applications
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – Application software consumed through a standard (typically web-based) interface rather than running locally
From this taxonomy, the sequential nature of cloud computing is clear:
- the IaaS bone’s connected to the PaaS bone
- the PaaS bone’s connected to the SaaS bone
- the SaaS bone’s connected to the user bone