🕒 Reading Time: 5 minutes Cloud computing is often characterized by: Virtualized computing resources, Seemingly limitless capacity / scalability, Dynamic and instant self-provisioning, Multi-tenancy, Pay-for-use pricing (In the public on-demand model)
Everything as a ServiceUnlike all of the chatter that we have been hearing and reading about for the last few years, cloud is not a buzzword, but an all-encompassing new way of delivering IT services. Although cloud computing is still in its infancy, it is taking shape and it has been clearly defined into three primary categories:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
Virtualization vs. Cloud ComputingVirtualization is not cloud. While virtualization is an important foundation in building a cloud, virtualization only provides isolation of compute and memory on one physical server or a cluster of servers. Anyone can install a virtualization app like Sun/Oracle Virtualbox on top of their OS or they can install a hypervisor OS like Citrix XenServer, VMware ESXi or Windows Datacenter edition with Hyper-V. However, these are still simply virtualized servers. The layers on top of the virtualization layers are what constitute “cloud computing.” These come in the form of Cloud Management tools and Orchestration Management tools. Orchestration Management tools are much more flexible and generally work with the open source leaders like Xen and KVM as well as the leading commercial solutions like VMware’s ESX/ESXi, XenServer from Citrix and Microsoft Hyper-V. By supporting all of the industry standard hypervisors, consumers not only have the choice in building within their preferred hypervisor, but they are also able to create hybrid mixed platform environments using Linux and Windows. These tools usually remove the threat of vendor lock-in by having the ability to build the same cloud architecture on top of the various hypervisor technologies. This is the highest level of cloud computing. As one person eloquently stated: “Virtual servers are just virtual servers, but when you have virtual networking, you have a cloud.”
Economics / Shift from CapEx to OpExConsumers have been buying servers for on-site and colocation from the very beginning. Companies like CARI.net have offered reduced CapEx for many years. However, today’s consumers want ZERO CapEx and they all want to pay for only what they use. We have all heard of commodity servers, grid computing and computing fabric for many years. It is finally a reality and it is called cloud computing. Setup fees have become a thing of the past. Pay-as-you-go is all the rage.
Reduced IT management time and expense / Increased productivityWhen IT professionals can work within a virtualized cloud environment, they can “build once and replicate indefinitely.” Business leaders are really catching on to the fact that a little overtime right now will save them massive time and therefore payroll moving forward. Take a look at this standard 8-server cluster. In the traditional server environment, the system administrator(s) would have to manually configure 8 servers. If they also need separate test and development environments, then they would have to manually configure 24 servers. Now, imagine only building and configuring 4 servers (1 load balancer, 1 web server, 1 database server and 1 application server) and them replicating them for the same 8-server cluster. Then, imagine replicating the cluster two times to achieve the desired 24 servers. Do you think business leaders would rather pay their IT staff to build 24 servers or 4? Virtualization makes this part possible, but when you add the virtual networking capabilities in most cloud computing, setup and configuration time is slashed even more. These reductions in time and cost result in increased productivity of the entire IT staff as well as everybody who depends on it. This also provides the agility that all organizations need to be competitive today. The added security of scheduled snapshot backups and automated failover are just the icing on the cake.
Faster IT response timeAccording to one very thorough survey:
- 80% of IT organizations think they provide IT services in a timely fashion.
- Only 8% of consumers agree.