Cloud Confusion – Is The Cloud Still A Mystery To You?February 22nd, 2012 by BrightCloud
The Cloud is widely talked about and yet the meaning of the term is somewhat misleading.
The term ‘Cloud’ really came from old network diagrams where the Cloud as an undefined network, this Cloud was then used to describe the Internet. In essence it followed that Cloud computing should be delivered via the Internet and this is broadly what Cloud Computing is, but not exactly.
Cloud computing in basic terms a shift of applications being delivered as a service rather than a product, mainly provided over the Internet, but can be via other networks such as mobile networks.
In comparison with a traditional shared or dedicated server environment, the development of cloud computing has created a practical and viable alternative for businesses looking for cost effective IT solutions.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing is largely unaffected by the shortcomings often associated with traditional servers. The cloud revolves around a group of virtual machines whose functionality and accessibility is through server clusters and unlimited storage. This provides a basis for remarkable flexibility in terms of scalability of systems, ease of access, application development and for lower costs.
Cloud computing has emerged as a natural evolution from virtualisation. In essence, a cloud environment is an extension of the virtual infrastructure as hard assets are transformed into online IT services. The cloud allows workloads to be rapidly shifted and positioned among a theoretically limitless number of virtual machines.
Benefits of Cloud Hosting
As cloud hosting becomes increasingly accessible and mainstream, businesses of every size are exploring the potential benefits. Incorporating aspects of the cloud into data management as well as application and web related development can result in substantial improvements in overall operational efficiency in several critical areas.
- Cost – When you look at the cost of hardware, buying that hardware, putting licenses on it, then putting it in a secure location somewhere within your facility, that is all quite expensive. But there are soft costs as well – power, support, cooling and even things like insurance. Cloud computing can take a significant capital expenditure and turn it into an operational expenditure, certainly saving you money in the long run. When using cloud hosting services, you only pay for the resources you actually use rather than what you think you might need.
- Flexibility and Scalability – Businesses today need to be flexible and agile, whether you have a new application you want to roll out or whether you want to increase resources – disk space, band width, anything like that you want to scale or change the resource behind your IT, you can do this much more easily with flexible cloud computing.
- Risk – Most SMEs don’t really analyse risk, certainly the risk in their IT systems. How do you back up your data, how you recover that data, how you recover that data in the event of a disaster – all these things are important and if you look at the services these days offered by cloud computing it can significantly reduce your risk.
- Performance – There is nothing more frustrating for users than poor performing IT applications. By moving to a cloud computing environment you are moving to an environment where professionals are looking at how that application can be optimised.
Different Types of Cloud
When most people refer to cloud computing they are talking of a public cloud which is formed when a provider, like Amazon, Google or a similar company, makes computing resources, such as processing power, memory or storage, publicly available over the internet. In a public cloud environment, the user pays no bandwidth or hardware costs and setup is usually quick and easy. Although the user does not pay these costs, they usually do pay for the resources they use. Think of it like paying for only the amount of electricity you use or the amount of minutes you use per month on your mobile phone. Some providers also charge a subscription fee as well. If you need more resources, the cloud can instantly provide them. There’s no need to install additional hardware or software.
Public clouds typically run on open-source software to facilitate the movement of such vast amounts of data. However, as an increasing number of software companies, such as Microsoft and Oracle, have attempted to enter the cloud computing arena, they have started to provide cloud infrastructures that utilise proprietary software. This has been a sticking point with cloud computing commentators, who don’t regard public clouds running proprietary software as truly public.
From its inception, the major vulnerability of the public cloud has been security. Once your data enters the cloud, it can circulate through dozens, hundreds or even thousands of systems. This is truly frightening for anyone running applications that involve highly secure data such as financial information or corporate intelligence. And this, more than anything else, is what brought on the other types of cloud computing that are in use today.
The term “private cloud” started being used when hardware and software companies were looking for ways to utilise cloud computing while maintaining usage of their existing systems. Knowing that IT departments were nervous about using public clouds due to security reasons, the term “private cloud” as was used describe a computing infrastructure privately held by a business that had capabilities similar to a cloud but was completely internal and therefore more secure.
It is worth mentioning that private clouds consist of privately held devices, such as storage arrays and servers, which needed to be built and configured by the organization. This mitigates most of the benefits of cloud computing. However, companies can use virtualisation to simulate some of the resource allocation features of the cloud and thus save on costs. In general, a private cloud is not really a cloud at all but simply a farm of internal resources that can be used only by the organisation in which they are installed.
BrightCloud hosted applications and infrastructure provided as a services can be seen as a private cloud, resources derived from a shared infrastructure, secured into a private infrastructure and delivered to the customer as a private cloud.
The hybrid cloud is the happy medium of cloud computing. If a business has varying around their computing needs and also has both sensitive and non-sensitive applications, it can use a hybrid cloud to get the best of both worlds. In most cases, the database servers, which generally contain sensitive information, are kept on a private cloud, and a public cloud is used for everything else. This solves the security problems of public clouds and lets an organisation take advantage of all that public cloud has to offer when it comes to general computing resources.