We're starting to see the evolution of the platform and what it represents. I'd argue that the platform metaphor is far more resonating than the idea of the private cloud. A platform can be used inside, outside or in both the enterprise data center and a public cloud environment. It removes the oxymoron that makes the private cloud idea so nonsensical. Why would a cloud be called private if at the same time the service is as much about leveraging infrastructure outside the enterprise, too? And don't start with the hybrid talk. We're talking platforms. Isn't that easier to process than these mixed up terms that have the power to do nothing else except confuse people?

Until recently, the platform has seemed relatively limiting but the potential has been clear with innovative environments such as Heroku and Engine Yard. New platforms emerging make the concept of the platform more palatable to the enterprise and should be more popular with customers who can clearly see the value of the offering. We've looked at DotCloud and Cloud Foundry, the impressive new platform from VMware. Now let's look at another platform that we expect to hear a lot more from in the year ahead.

CumuLogic

CumuLogic is a company to watch. Its founders come from Sun. James Gosling, the man who created Java, is on its advisory boards. So is Bill Vass, Sun's former CIO. It's an agnostic platform that gives an enterprise team the ability to create their own environment. With CumuLogic, an application can be integrated with a database and be deployed on a choice of infrastructure services.

The demo showed how, for instance, a team could use CumuLogic to select an application environment from IBM, paired with DB2 database that runs on Amazon EC2. It has administrative control so different permissions can be controlled. It allows an environment to be recreated without building it from scratch. It can be configured to be scaled up or down, depending on demand. It can be monitored from the OS to the top of the application stack and ported to a different environment to create a backup.

CumuLogic treats the stack as something that is reusable. That's what we are seeing from other platform providers, too. Developers and IT are starting to find common ground. Why? We're moving into a time in which the enterprise environment is programmable. No longer will there be the need to create a new stack entirely from scratch. The system administration will be abstracted yet controlled.

We're seeing a shift from the bottom of the stack to the application layer at the very top. Web-based operating systems, shifts to NoSQL and a variety of programming languages are attracting legions of developers.

The rise of the platform is an example of the shift. It's not about private clouds. It's about shared environments that allow for speed, agility and the ability to keep control.

Platforms are the rule. Private clouds are marketing speak.