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Cloud Computing

You have been hearing talks about 'The Cloud' and wonder what it is or if you can also use it. Although the idea is relatively new commercially by many users and companies, it is really not that new. In fact, you've using the cloud in some ways. At minimum, 'The Cloud' is basically the internet.

You are connected to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) via cable, DSL, T1, dish, EVDO (3G and 4G high speed wireless broadband), and dial up. You use these services to check your email, manage your website, archive your data online, pay bills with online bill pay, order online, stream music (such as Internet Radio), stream movies, and more.

There are many approaches online and other media to explain this cloud concept and technology. To help you understand, this article summarizes the definitions and generally explains as simple as possible what Cloud Computing is. Afterwards, you can continue to research better on the cloud technologies and learn more how to can get started in using these services.

The Cloud technology description has been frequently overused and misused. The term “Cloud” (not related to the clouds you see in the sky) refers to the way that networks outside of your home, office, and companies ( Internet in this case ) have been represented in engineering and network growth and development for some time. In reality, 'The Cloud' is just the iteration of a concept that has been called many things in the past including ASP (application service provider), on-demand utility computing and as a service (such as Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service).

Basically, the cloud technology has evolved to as the next stage in Internet technology providing end user a pool of resources (servers, storage, applications, security, streaming entertainment, and voice services) for as-needed solutions from a provider’s network center. Plain and simple, cloud computing is the use of computing resources that are delivered as a service over a network (in this article, the Internet). This eliminates the need for on-site equipment, maintenance, and management. Cloud technologies enable IT departments to increase or add capabilities as needed without:

  • Purchasing and upgrading equipment and software
  • Training employees to support it
  • Using office space, power, and cooling to house it

Cloud computing has four essential characteristics:

  1. Elasticity and scalability - The cloud is elastic, meaning that resource allocation can get bigger or smaller on demand. Elasticity enables scalability, which means that the cloud can scale upward for peak demand and downward for lighter demand. Scalability also means that an application can scale when adding users and when application requirements changes.
  2. Self-service provisioning - Cloud customers can provision cloud services without going through a lengthy acquisition and setup processes. You request an amount of computing, storage, software, process, or more from the service provider. After you use these resources, they can be automatically.
  3. Standardized interfaces - Cloud services should have standardized APIs, which provide instructions on how two application or data sources can communicate with each other. A standardized interface lets the customer more easily link cloud services together.
  4. Billing and service usage metering - Customers can be billed for resources as they use them. This pay-as-you-go model means usage is metered and customers pay only for what they consume. There are arrangements to be billed on a cycle such as weekly, monthly, and yearly. Example: office solution can be daily or weekly where security such as antivirus might be monthly or yearly.

The world of the cloud has lots of participants:

  • The end user who doesn’t have to know anything about the underlying technology.
  • Business management who need to take responsibility for the governance of data or services living in a cloud without the high management expense. Cloud service providers must provide a predictable and guaranteed service level and security to all their constituents.
  • The cloud service provider who is responsible for IT assets and maintenance.

To put this technology in perspective, below is a high level diagram showing the cloud computing logical diagram. This was taken from Wikipedia as a very good view.

 

There are many types of public cloud computing:

    • Iaas - Infrastructure as a service
    • PaaS - Platform as a service
    • Saas - Software as a service
    • Naas - Network as a service
    • StaaS - Storage as a service
    • SECaaS - Security as a service
    • DaaS - Data as a service
    • DaaS - Desktop as a service
    • DbaaS - Database as a service
    • TeaaS - Test environment as a servic
    • APIaaS - API as a service
    • BaaS - Backend as a service
    • IDEaaS - Integrated development environment as a service
    • IPaaS - Integration platform as a service

Most common in the business model would be the software as a service, data as a service, security as a service, and storage as a service. The cloud providers manage the infrastructure and platforms on which the applications, data, and security referred to as “on-demand software and service.>They provide end users immediate access to new, always-on features from nearly any device in any location. They also provide the business a predictable, subscription-based, pay-per-use way to fund IT.