Simply put, Cloud Computing is where applications, storage and computing power are provided over the Internet instead of locally on a single computer or network and are utilized as a service rather than a product—like electricity, you use what you need and pay by the meter. Broadly speaking, to be considered Cloud Computing an application’s data and core processing functions would be hosted/stored and managed online ("in the cloud") and accessible from any PC, laptop or mobile device with a network connection in real-time; and you would pay for computing resources as you utilize them. So, in short, Cloud services are provided via the Internet and on a consumption-based pay-as-you-use model. These services are typically established with short-term contracts and without up-front expenditure. However, Cloud Computing can be private and therefore internal in nature such as when a large enterprise builds its own Private Cloud.
More eruditely it is defined by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as "a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” NIST's working definition of cloud computing has long been the de facto definition.
Cloud Computing has become a viable option because large amounts of storage and processing power have become ubiquitous and cheap—it's now cost-effective for companies ("Cloud providers") to build huge data centers where computing and software can be provided remotely on an enormous scale and rented out like a utility service. Thus, "in the cloud" actually means that within these huge data centers applications and associated data are installed on one or many powerful computers called servers that reside within specially adapted buildings. The facilities that house these data centers are like warehouses filled with banks of servers in cabinets called racks that have powerful air conditioning systems to keep the servers cool and highly resilient power and Internet connections. And the biggest beneficiary is the small and medium business sector which now has access to the same expensive technologies as enterprises, without owning them, but simply paying for them according to use.
Lastly, companies that implement the Cloud effectively gain a faster time to market for applications, the flexibility to deal with changes in business demand and a friendlier environment for testing new initiatives, as software and infrastructure can be scaled up or down depending on changing needs and requirements. Cloud computing can help businesses optimize the resources they have at hand, reducing the cost and complexity of their data center, while putting the right amount of computing power at the fingertips of every employee, no matter where they are or when they need it. Cloud-enabled companies can achieve strong efficiency gains because the Cloud's inherently open architecture gives them the ability to add new features and functions quickly and easily, and to reduce the maintenance costs for their IT architecture; consequently, this allows them to focus more on their primary business objectives and to compete in new and innovative ways. Moreover, the absence of initial capital expenditure allows companies to much more freely move to alternative Cloud solutions if the current one is found not to be the best fit.
The cloud offers a myriad of capabilities and benefits that meet business and computing challenges across a spectrum of companies and user groups. However, all clouds share the following:
Pooled Computing Resources – Every cloud pools physical and virtual resources -- notably storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth, and virtual machines -- enabling resources to be dynamically activated and de-activated on demand. Generally, users don’t control or even know the exact location of the resources. However, they can often choose a deep level of abstraction -- such as a high-availability domain or a service that meets regulatory requirements around data location.
Network-Centric – Regardless of its flavor, each implementation of cloud computing is network-centric. All services are delivered over a network and accessed through such basic tools as lightweight web protocols.
Agile Provisioning of Resources – Every cloud is able to activate or deactivate resources quickly and easily. In some cases, users enjoy self-service, enabling them to provision such capabilities as server capacity and storage over the Internet, via web applications or web services.
Rapid Allocation of Resources – Resources are rapidly and elastically allocated to meet computing demands – meaning they can be scaled up or down in minutes for maximum efficiency. All clouds use pre-set policies to manage the allocation, while the best ones adjust resources automatically.
Pay-Per-Use Pricing and Metering – Public cloud providers charge on a pay-per-use basis, also known as utility pricing. Such metering of services (notably storage, CPU usage, bandwidth, and so on) is also used by private and hybrid clouds, although those clouds typically do not charge users but leverage metering to gain insight into usage patterns, capacity planning, and other purposes.
Also referred to as the three major layers, here are the three primary types of Cloud Computing —
In the IaaS model, a provider delivers a computer infrastructure (typically a heavily virtualized environment) as a service. Clients pay a metered rate for servers, software, data-center space and network equipment. IaaS is at the other end of the cloud spectrum from SaaS . In this scenario, you want to maintain control of your software environment, but you don't want to maintain any equipment. You don't want to have to buy servers and put them in a climate-controlled room or any of that. Instead, you go to an IaaS provider and request a virtual machine.
Notable examples: Amazon Web Services, HP CloudSystem, AirVM, CloudBasic, Microsoft Azure
The PaaS model provides services -- middleware, such as application servers and databases -- layered on top of an IaaS foundation. Typically, PaaS adds another level of abstraction that unburdens developers and operators of certain tasks. Developers write their application to a more or less open specification and then upload their code into the cloud where the application is hosted and automatically scaled without the developer having to worry about it overly.
Notable examples: IBM Cloud, VMWare vCloud, Microsoft Azure
SaaS is probably the best known and easiest-to-grasp model of cloud computing as it involves the direct consumption of an application by end-users rather than by developers or operators. There is no inherent relationship between a hosted application and the nature of the infrastructure on which it runs. However, SaaS applications can and often do run on cloud infrastructure and middleware. As alluded to, SaaS is really geared toward the end users in your organization and doesn't take much to get started. The provider figures out how many resources to devote to your use of the application. The provider figures out the servers, the virtual machines, the network equipment, everything. You just point your browser at it.
Notable examples: PGi GlobalMeet, HyperOffice, Intermedia, Mailprotector, Microsoft Office 365, Carbonite, Mozy
Cloud computing comes in three main deployment models: public, private, and hybrid. However, there are also community and combined models.
Public Cloud: Here, a company owns and operates the cloud infrastructure or platform, and sells cloud services to the general public and organizations. Customers access the services via the Internet and are billed on pay-per-use basis. Well-known examples of public cloud services are Google Mail & Apps and Amazon Web Services.
Private Cloud: In this case, an organization owns its own cloud and uses resources which are dedicated to that organization. The operation of the cloud takes place behind the internal firewall or behind a third-party’s firewall. This type of cloud is managed by the organization or a third-party, and can exist on-premises or off-premises. A private cloud shares many of the characteristics of public cloud computing including resource pooling, self-service, elasticity and pay-by-use delivered in a standardized manner with the additional control and customization available from dedicated resources.
Hybrid Cloud: As its name suggest, a hybrid cloud blends the public and private cloud models, and provides a high degree of interoperability between a private cloud and a public cloud implementation. The hybrid model is favored by companies that want to own and operate a cloud infrastructure sized for routine loads but like the flexibility of renting extra capacity to handle load spikes.
Community Cloud: In this deployment, several organizations with similar requirements and issues share the infrastructure and its cost. Common issues are security, compliance, and industry-specific concerns.
Cloud Awareness Course eLearning by ITpreneurs
The Cloud Awareness eLearning Course is a 4 hour interactive experience for those who require a basic understanding of cloud computing and cloud computing concepts.
The Cloud Awareness course provides a 4 hour, interactive, online learning experience. This self-paced elearning course is ideal for those who require a basic understanding of the virtualization and cloud computing concepts in a time-efficient manner. The course has been designed for learners who need this basic awareness as a general interest — as part of a larger program initiative — as opposed to the full certification Virtualization and Cloud Essentials courses.
The Cloud Awareness course will be of interest to:
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• IT and business staff who need a brief overview and awareness of the virtualization and cloud computing concepts.
At the end of this course, participants will be able to:
• Understand the common terms and definitions of virtualization and cloud computing and be able to give examples.
• Understand the technical capabilities and business benefits of virtualization and cloud computing and how to measure these benefits.
• Describe the landscape of different types of virtualization and understand the different types of clouds.
• Illustrate how key application features can be delivered on virtual infrastructures.
• Explain typical steps that lead to the successful adoption of virtualization technologies.
• Understand the similarities and differences between cloud computing and outsourcing.
Course Student Material: Online, self-paced instructional material available for 90 days.
This excellent eLearning course is available from us (SCR) for $99. Please call us or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in buying one or more licenses.