One of the most compelling and publicly adopted models of distributed computing models is cloud computing.
For cloud computing to work well, early research determined that it was key to break down the pieces of the system: storage and processing, logic, and presentation to be more effective and achieve integration, scalability, and security. Three layers were proposed – IaaS (infrastructure as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), and SaaS (software as a service).
IaaS is where the computing model manages “the hardware:” processing power, storage, networking access, databases, file systems, and other similar systems are managed at this level.
SaaS is the interface with the user, whether human or another system and where the presentation of the program is processed and delivered.
A platform is where the logic for these systems to communicate resides –– and where the magic happens.
Communication between the three layers happens with tokenized security components to maintain security throughout, and communications between systems happen between platforms via open networks, so any platform can talk to any platform and easily integrate.
Scalability in this model happens through creating infinite instances of each subsystem easily while maintaining the integration and security. This is where the name distributed comes from: any piece of logic can be executed easily, effectively, and fast to deliver to any user anywhere while using any information and resources.
The way cloud computing works is quite simple: break down the problem to be solved into bite-size pieces, and use small pieces of logic (called services) to process them. Then, use the results from each service and system used to deliver the final version to the user or system that requested.
To do this well we need a central processing element: a traffic cop of sorts that knows where everything is, how to access it, and how to leverage it, and then how to put it back together.
That’s a platform.