Discovering the value of the cloud for the business
Discovering the Value of the Cloud for the Business Ramkumar Lakshminarayanan
Why Cloud Computing ?With the advent of the cloud, an organization can tryout a new application or even develop a newapplication without first investing in hardware,software, and networking.This can have a positive impact on companies thatwant to innovate and experiment without risk.
As we started our discussion about cloud computingwe ran into the repetitive use of the adjective clauseas a service.For example, Infrastructure as a Service, Hardware asa Service, Applications as a Service, Software as aService, and so on.Services you purchase from these cloud serviceproviders will be offered to you in a way that is similarto your television cable provider.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the delivery of acompute foundation (servers, networkingtechnology, storage, and data center space) as aservice. It also includes the delivery of operatingsystems and virtualization technology to manage theresources.
Visualize a scenario where the hardware and the OperatingSystem (OS) are exposed as a Web Service over the publicInternet. Based on the principles of Web Services, we couldsend a request to this service along with a few parameters.Since the OS is expected to act as an interface to the CPUand the devices, we can potentially invoke a service thataccepts a ‘job’ that will be processed by the OS and theunderlying hardware. Technically, this Web Service has justturned the OS + H/W combination into a ‘Service’.
All that the Cloud OS offers is the infrastructure services.You may choose to use REST API to manage this OS or useSSH or Remote Desktop console. Technically, when you areable to delegate a program to execute on a remote OSrunning on the Web, you are leveraging Infrastructure as aService (IaaS).This is different from classic web hosting. Web hosting onlyhosts web pages and cannot execute code that needs lowlevel access to the OS API. Web hosting cannot dynamicallyscale on demand.
IaaS enables you to run your computing task onvirtually unlimited number of machines.Remember that through IaaS, you have just moved aserver running in your backyard into the Cloud.You pretty much own the managing, patching,securing and the health of the remote servers.Amazon EC2 is an example of commercial IaaSoffering.
With Platform as a Service (PaaS) the providerdelivers more than infrastructure. It delivers what youcan think of as a solution stack for both a softwaredevelopment and runtime environment.Platform as a Service or PaaS goes one level abovethe Cloud OS.Through this, developers can leverage a scalableplatform to run their applications.
Developers always develop and deploy their applicationson the application development platforms. Some of themost popular application development platforms are .NETand Java.In the last scenario, we have seen how the OS + H/Wcombination is offered as a service. Now, imagine ascenario where the application development platform isoffered to you as a service.Through this, you will be able to develop and test yourapplications on a low end, inexpensive notebook PC butwill able to ‘submit’ my code to run on the most powerfulhardware infrastructure.
Examples of Platform as a Service include the GoogleAppEngine, Windows Azure, AppJet, Etelos, Qrimp,and Force.com, which is the official developmentenvironment for Salesforce.comThe advantage of PaaS is that the developers neednot worry about installing, maintaining, securing andpatching the server.
This layer we refer to the situation where the serviceprovider offers the customer the ability to run businessapplications that are hosted by the provider.Today, most of the traditional desktop applications likeword processors and spreadsheet packages are availableover the web. These new breed of applications just need abrowser and offer high fidelity with the desktop software.This fundamentally changes the way software is deployedand licensed.
You need not double click setup.exe to install anOffice suite on your desktop.Just subscribe to the applications and the featuresthat you need and only pay for what you use.This is almost equivalent to exposing the applicationas a service.These applications may be called as CloudApplications.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a silent revolution inthe world of traditional software products.Consumers can now use inexpensive devices that arecapable of connecting to the web to get their workdone.This reduces the upfront investment in software andbrings the Pay-as-you-go model. Google Apps,Salesforce.com and Microsoft Online Services areexamples of SaaS.
For IT Professionals, Cloud Computing is all aboutconsolidation and outsourcing the infrastructure. They aretypically focused on the Infrastructure as a Service.Platform as a Service is an offering meant for developersand architects. They need to design applications keepingthe statelessness of the Cloud.If you have ever used Google Docs or Microsoft Live Mesh,you have already leveraging the Cloud. Consumers willsubscribe to Software as a Service offerings.
Why Cloud Computing ?Pay per useInstant ScalabilitySecurityReliabilityAPIs
Hosting vs. Cloud ComputingHosting can never meet the promise of elasticity.Even if it does, it won’t match the economics of theCloud.Hosting does offer some level of Self Service but notto an extent of manipulating the server.
Pay-By-Use attribute is emulated by some hostingcompanies. But, it is not a norm in the hosting business. Programmability is too expensive to be supported by hosters as they cannot invest in the SDK and tools to manage the infrastructure. So, it is clearly evident that hosting is not the same as Cloud Computing.
Public CloudsThis is the most popular incarnation of the Cloud.Many businesses and individuals realize Cloudthrough the Public Cloud implementation.It needs a huge investment and only well establishedcompanies with deep pockets like Microsoft, Amazonand Google can afford to set them up.
For example, a London based business can choose todeploy their app at the Europe data center and anAmerican company prefers a data center in North America.With the geographical spread, Public Clouds like AmazonWeb Services and Microsoft Windows Azure also offerContent Delivery Network (CDN) features.Through this, static content will be automatically replicatedacross all the data centers around the globe thusincreasing the scalability and availability of theapplications.
Private CloudPrivate Clouds are normal data centers within anenterprise with all the 4 attributes of the Cloud – Elasticity,Self Service, Pay-By-Use and Programmability.By setting up a Private Cloud, enterprises can consolidatetheir IT infrastructure. They will need fewer IT staff tomanage the data center. They will also realize reducedpower bills because of the low electricity consumption andlesser cooling equipment needs.Private Cloud empowers employees within an organizationthrough Self Service of their IT needs. It becomes easy toprovision new machines and quickly assign them to projectteams.
Private Cloud borrows some of the best practices ofPublic Cloud but limited to an organizationalboundary.Private Cloud can be setup using a variety of offeringsfrom vmWare, Microsoft, IBM, SUN and others. Thereare also some of the Open Source implementationslike Eucalyptus and Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.
Hybrid CloudThere are scenarios where you need a combination ofPrivate Cloud and Public Cloud.Due to the regulations and compliance issues in fewcountries, sensitive data like citizen information,patient medical history, and financial transactionscannot be stored in servers that physically not locatedwithin the political boundaries of a country.
In some scenarios, the enterprise customers want toget best of the both worlds by logically connectingtheir Private Cloud and the Public Cloud.Through this, they can offer seamless scalability bymoving some of the on premise and Private Cloudbased applications to the Public Cloud.Security plays a critical role in connecting the PrivateCloud to the Public Cloud.
Amazon Web Services has recently announced VirtualPrivate Cloud (VPC) that securely bridges PrivateCloud and Amazon Web Services.It is almost like extending your infrastructure beyondthe organizational boundary and the firewall in asecure way.Microsoft’s recent announcement of WindowsAppFabric brings the concept of Hybrid Cloud toMicrosoft’s future customers.
Community CloudCommunity Cloud is implemented when a set ofbusinesses have a similar requirement and share thesame context. This would be made available to a setof select organizations.For example Government of India Reserve Bank of IndiaA Community Cloud Goes Beyond an organization.