Cloud Computing – The future of IT

What is cloud?

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. In this ever-changing business climate, it’s critical that small business owners get what they need right when they need it. Whether they’re on their computers, tablets or mobile phones, it’s more important than ever for businesspeople to have information right at their fingertips, wherever they are.

Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

 

 

Cloud computing, often referred to as simply “the cloud,” is the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis. It is the delivery of services of the computing a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).

In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet“.

Cloud computing exhibits the following key characteristics:

 

 
Agility improves with users’ ability to re-provision technological infrastructure resources.
Application programming interface(API) accessibility to software that enables machines to interact with cloud software in the same way that a traditional user interface (e.g., a computer desktop) facilitates interaction between humans and computers. Cloud computing systems typically use Representational State Transfer (REST)-based APIs.
Cost reductions claimed by cloud providers. A public-cloud delivery model converts capital expenditure to operational expenditure. This purportedly lowers barriers to entry, as infrastructure is typically provided by a third party and does not need to be purchased for one-time or infrequent intensive computing tasks. Pricing on a utility computing basis is fine-grained, with usage-based options and fewer IT skills are required for implementation (in-house). The e-FISCAL project’s state-of-the-art repository contains several articles looking into cost aspects in more detail, most of them concluding that costs savings depend on the type of activities supported and the type of infrastructure available in-house.
Device and location independenceenable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they use (e.g., PC, mobile phone). As infrastructure is off-site (typically provided by a third-party) and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere.
Maintenance of cloud computing applications is easier, because they do not need to be installed on each user’s computer and can be accessed from different places.
Multitenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for:
centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity, etc.)
peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible load-levels)
utilisation and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10–20% utilised.
Performance is monitored, and consistent and loosely coupled architectures are constructed using web services as the system interface.
Productivity may be increased when multiple users can work on the same data simultaneously, rather than waiting for it to be saved and emailed. Time may be saved as information does not need to be re-entered when fields are matched, nor do users need to install application software upgrades to their computer.
Reliability improves with the use of multiple redundant sites, which makes well-designed cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery.
Scalability and elasticity via dynamic (“on-demand”) provisioning of resources on a fine-grained, self-service basis in near real-time (Note, the VM startup time varies by VM type, location, OS and cloud providers), without users having to engineer for peak loads.
Security can improve due to centralization of data, increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels. Security is often as good as or better than other traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford to tackle. However, the complexity of security is greatly increased when data is distributed over a wider area or over a greater number of devices, as well as in multi-tenant systems shared by unrelated users. In addition, user access to security audit logs may be difficult or impossible. Private cloud installations are in part motivated by users’ desire to retain control over the infrastructure and avoid losing control of information security.

Service Models   –  Cloud computing services

                          

Software as a service (SaaS)

                                                
Cloud-based applications—or software as a service (SaaS)—run on distant computers “in the cloud” that are owned and operated by others and that connect to users’ computers via the Internet and, usually, a web browser.  

In the business model using software as a service (SaaS), users are provided access to application software and databases. Cloud providers manage the infrastructure and platforms that run the applications. SaaS is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” and is usually priced on a pay-per-use basis. SaaS providers generally price applications using a subscription fee.
In the SaaS model, cloud providers install and operate application software in the cloud and cloud users access the software from cloud clients. Cloud users do not manage the cloud infrastructure and platform where the application runs. This eliminates the need to install and run the application on the cloud user’s own computers, which simplifies maintenance and support. Cloud applications are different from other applications in their scalability—which can be achieved by cloning tasks onto multiple virtual machines at run-time to meet changing work demand. Load balancers distribute the work over the set of virtual machines. This process is transparent to the cloud user, who sees only a single access point. To accommodate a large number of cloud users, cloud applications can be multitenant, that is, any machine serves more than one cloud user organization.
The pricing model for SaaS applications is typically a monthly or yearly flat fee per user, so price is scalable and adjustable if users are added or removed at any point.

Proponents claim SaaS allows a business the potential to reduce IT operational costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the cloud provider. This enables the business to reallocate IT operations costs away from hardware/software spending and personnel expenses, towards meeting other goals. In addition, with applications hosted centrally, updates can be released without the need for users to install new software. One drawback of SaaS is that the users’ data are stored on the cloud provider’s server. As a result, there could be unauthorized access to the data. For this reason, users are increasingly adopting intelligent third-party key management systems to help secure their data. 

Platform as a service (PaaS)

                                                
Platform as a service provides a cloud-based environment with everything required to support the complete lifecycle of building and delivering web-based (cloud) applications—without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software, provisioning and hosting. 
In the PaaS models, cloud providers deliver a computing platform, typically including operating system, programming language execution environment, database, and web server. Application developers can develop and run their software solutions on a cloud platform without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software layers. With some PaaS offers like Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine, the underlying computer and storage resources scale automatically to match application demand so that the cloud user does not have to allocate resources manually. The latter has also been proposed by an architecture aiming to facilitate real-time in cloud environments. 
 

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

                                                      
Infrastructure as a service provides companies with computing resources including servers, networking, storage, and data center space on a pay-per-use basis. 
In the most basic cloud-service model & according to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), providers of IaaS offer computers – physical or (more often) virtual machines – and other resources. (A hypervisor, such as Xen, Oracle VirtualBox, KVM, VMware ESX/ESXi, or Hyper-V runs the virtual machines as guests. Pools of hypervisors within the cloud operational support-system can support large numbers of virtual machines and the ability to scale services up and down according to customers’ varying requirements.) IaaS clouds often offer additional resources such as a virtual-machine disk image library, raw block storage, and file or object storage, firewalls, load balancers, IP addresses, virtual local area networks (VLANs), and software bundles. IaaS-cloud providers supply these resources on-demand from their large pools installed in data centers. For wide-area connectivity, customers can use either the Internet or carrier clouds (dedicated virtual private networks).
To deploy their applications, cloud users install operating-system images and their application software on the cloud infrastructure. In this model, the cloud user patches and maintains the operating systems and the application software. Cloud providers typically bill IaaS services on a utility computing basis: cost reflects the amount of resources allocated and consumed.

Cloud Computing – Deployment Models

Public cloud

                                       
Public clouds are owned and operated by companies that use them to offer rapid access to affordable computing resources to other organizations or individuals. With public cloud services, users don’t need to purchase hardware, software or supporting infrastructure, which is owned and managed by providers. 

 Private cloud

                                        
A private cloud is owned and operated by a single company that controls the way virtualized resources and automated services are customized and used by various lines of business and constituent groups. Private clouds exist to take advantage of many of cloud’s efficiencies, while providing more control of resources and steering clear of multi-tenancy.

 Hybrid cloud

                                      
 A hybrid cloud uses a private cloud foundation combined with the strategic use of public cloud services. The reality is a private cloud can’t exist in isolation from the rest of a company’s IT resources and the public cloud. Most companies with private clouds will evolve to manage workloads across data centers, private clouds and public clouds—thereby creating hybrid clouds.

 Key Players in Cloud Market

Heroku 
Heroku is an impressive cloud-hosting platform that is both robust and easy to use. Its suite of powerful features includes compatibility with every major Web language, fast application deployment, monitoring and analytics, an intuitive user interface, easy scale management and simple third-party add-on integration from outside vendors. Heroku also provides a collection of tutorials and documentations for uncomplicated utilization.
Amazon Elastic Beanstalk
Carrying the trusted e-commerce behemoth’s name, Amazon Elastic Beanstalk is an excellent cloud platform that offers a comprehensive set of cloud-computing tools. Its services include Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), a Linux or Windows server for your cloud; Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service), where you can store files like documents, photos, videos and more; Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service) for databases; and Amazon ELB (Elastic Load Balancing), which essentially manages traffic in and out of your cloud. You can select which of these simple-to-use tools you’d like to use, or choose all of them for maximum capability and cloud management.
Windows Azure

Coming in at No. 3 is Windows Azure, which is perfect for anyone who wants to source out all the administrative tasks associated with cloud computing. Windows Azure offers a platform-as-a-service that handles everything from setting up and configuring to updating and maintaining your cloud server. It is also one of the few services that support .NET applications. Included in the Windows Azure package are in-depth documentation and tutorials, as well as email and phone support, making it one of the most user-friendly cloud services out there.
Cbeyond, a cloud services and communications provider for SMBs, also suggests finding cloud-computing services that offer both cloud and network connectivity to simplify logistics, save money and avoid the headaches of dealing with multiple vendors.

What Are the Dangers/Drawbacks of Cloud Computing?

The drawbacks of cloud computing are twofold.  

First, implementing any new type of technology will require training personnel and establishing an effective troubleshooting system during and after the cloud has launched. You will also have to address any hesitation among your employees, especially for those who are unfamiliar with cloud technology.

Another concern about cloud computing is its security risks. Business owners and decision makers primarily worry about sensitive data in the cloud and their vulnerability to unauthorized users. While an organization’s cloud is typically accessed using designated usernames and passwords, verifying user identity itself remains a top concern. A study by the Ponemon Institute, an independent privacy and data-protection research center, found that a mere 29 percent of organizations have confidence in a cloud’s ability to authenticate identities and secure who has access to sensitive information.

In weighing the risks of cloud computing versus its benefits, executives are especially concerned about how their information is kept safe in the cloud.

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

Today, most companies want and need to have both onsite and offsite IT environments. Most cloud offerings, though, are only designed to run new applications, not support older legacy ones. And if your needs fluctuate, you overprovision, spending precious budget allocations on under-utilized resources rather than being able to move workloads as needed. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/overview#sthash.UP11n8xu.dpuf

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

Today, most companies want and need to have both onsite and offsite IT environments. Most cloud offerings, though, are only designed to run new applications, not support older legacy ones. And if your needs fluctuate, you overprovision, spending precious budget allocations on under-utilized resources rather than being able to move workloads as needed. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/overview#sthash.UP11n8xu.dpuf

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

Today, most companies want and need to have both onsite and offsite IT environments. Most cloud offerings, though, are only designed to run new applications, not support older legacy ones. And if your needs fluctuate, you overprovision, spending precious budget allocations on under-utilized resources rather than being able to move workloads as needed. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/overview#sthash.UP11n8xu.dpuf

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

Today, most companies want and need to have both onsite and offsite IT environments. Most cloud offerings, though, are only designed to run new applications, not support older legacy ones. And if your needs fluctuate, you overprovision, spending precious budget allocations on under-utilized resources rather than being able to move workloads as needed. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/overview#sthash.UP11n8xu.dpuf

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

Today, most companies want and need to have both onsite and offsite IT environments. Most cloud offerings, though, are only designed to run new applications, not support older legacy ones. And if your needs fluctuate, you overprovision, spending precious budget allocations on under-utilized resources rather than being able to move workloads as needed. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/overview#sthash.UP11n8xu.dpuf

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

Today, most companies want and need to have both onsite and offsite IT environments. Most cloud offerings, though, are only designed to run new applications, not support older legacy ones. And if your needs fluctuate, you overprovision, spending precious budget allocations on under-utilized resources rather than being able to move workloads as needed. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/overview#sthash.UP11n8xu.dpuf

Today IT is faced with the challenge of trying to respond to rapidly changing business environments on limited budgets, needing to support legacy applications as well as new modern software applications. Businesses cannot afford to start over and build all new applications for the cloud. But if IT doesn’t respond with a supported cloud service, business units and individual developers go buy their own without the IT oversight that ensures reliability, security, compliance and governance. Cloud computing offers substantial benefits in terms of agility and cost-effectiveness but cloud platforms are not commodities, with one easily substituted for another. You can easily end up with some workloads than can only run on-premise and some that can only run in specific proprietary clouds.

Today, most companies want and need to have both onsite and offsite IT environments. Most cloud offerings, though, are only designed to run new applications, not support older legacy ones. And if your needs fluctuate, you overprovision, spending precious budget allocations on under-utilized resources rather than being able to move workloads as needed. – See more at: http://www.vmware.com/cloud-computing/overview#sthash.UP11n8xu.dpu

 

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