An introduction to Cloud Computing

In recent times, we hear almost all companies have moved to cloud computing. But, what is cloud computing? Where is this ‘cloud’? In technical parlance, cloud implies anything that involves hosted services over the Internet. This means, anyone can consume compute resources as a utility – like electricity, or water or gas – rather than having to build and maintain computing infrastructure at their office/ residence.

An often heard phrase, ’moving to the cloud’ refers to an organization or individual moving away from the traditional CAPEX Model (buying a hardware server/ infrastructure, which depreciates over time) to the OPEX model (using a shared cloud infrastructure and paying for it based on usage).

History

Even though the origin of the term cloud computing is uncertain, the expression ‘cloud’ is commonly used in science to describe a large number of objects that visually appear from a distance as a cloud and describes any set of things whose details are not inspected further in a given context. In short, the usage of the term cloud was possibly used as a metaphor for the Internet and a standardized cloud – like shape was used to denote a network on telephony schematics and later to depict the internet in computer diagrams.

How does Cloud Computing work?

Cloud computing usually exhibits key characteristics like agility, cost reduction, device and location independence, easy maintenance, multi-tenancy, better performance, increased productivity, high reliability, easy scalability and elasticity, and better security. Cloud computing has been in existence since 2000. By early 2008, OpenNebula had become one of the first open source software for deploying private and hybrid clouds. Cloud computing is the result of evolution and adoption of existing technologies and paradigms. The goal of cloud computing is to allow users to benefit from all of the technologies it works in.

The main technology used is virtualization. This software creates a separate virtual device which can be easily used and managed to perform computing tasks. Users routinely face difficult business problems. Cloud computing adopts concepts from Service oriented Architecture that can help the users break these problems into services that can be integrated to provide a solution.

Similar to grid computing, Cloud Computing has evolved by addressing QoS (Quality of Service) and reliability problems. Cloud computing provides tools and technologies to build data/ compute intensive parallel applications at more affordable prices compared to traditional parallel computing techniques.

Implementation

IBM’s Smart Cloud, released in 2011 to support the Smarter Planet. This includes infrastructure as a service and software and platform as a service offered through public, private and hybrid cloud delivery models.

Another implementation model is the Oracle Cloud which came into being in 2012. According to Technology leaders, this cloud offering is set to be the first to provide users with access to an integrated set of IT solutions, including applications, platforms and infrastructure layers.

Service Models

Cloud computing providers offer various service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model, wherein cloud users install operating – system images and their application software on the cloud infrastructure. The cloud user patches and maintains the operating systems and the application software.

Another service model is the Platform as a Service (PaaS) wherein cloud providers deliver the computing platform, typically including the operating system, programming language execution environment, and database and web server. Specific application types can be provided via PaaS, for example, media encoding as provided by services as bitcodin trancoding cloud of media.io.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a business model using software to provide users with access to application software and databases. Cloud providers manage the infrastructure and platforms that run the applications. SaaS is sometimes referred to as an ’on – demand software’ and is usually priced on a pay – per use basis or using a subscription fee.

Deployment Models

Private Cloud

Private Cloud is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third–party and hosted either internally or externally. Undertaking a private cloud project requires a significant level and degree of engagement to visualize the business environment, and requires the organization to reevaluate decisions about existing resources.

Public Cloud

A Cloud is termed ’public’’, when the services rendered are over a network that is open for public use. Public cloud services maybe free for use. Technically, there may not be much of a difference between public and private cloud architecture, however, security considerations may vary substantially in the case of services provided by a public cloud.

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud is a composition of two or more clouds. Usually, a mix of private, public and community clouds come together to form a hybrid cloud. They remain distinct, but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models. Hybrid clouds can also mean the ability to connect collocation, managed and/or dedicated services with cloud resources.

How does Cloud Computing help?

Since inception, Cloud computing has been helping businesses:

  • Achieve economies of scale
  • Reduce spending on technology infrastructure
  • Globalize business workforce on a cheaper rate
  • Streamline processes
  • Reduce capital costs
  • Improve accessibility
  • Monitor projects more effectively
  • Minimize personnel training
  • Minimize licensing new software
  • Improve flexibility

Security and Privacy Facts

For better understanding of Cloud Computing and its implications, participate in the upcoming conference on June 20, at the Vivanta by Taj, Trivandrum, and hear Adarsh Singh, VP, Cloud & Managed Services, Sify Technologies Ltd. talk about Applying Cloud Computing. For details, visit www.nasscom.in/architectingintelligence.

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