Life Before Cloud Computing Information Technology Essay

What is Cloud Computing and what does it mean for the business. Everyone in the technology world and business are talking about it. What unique advantages does a cloud computing architecture offer to companies in today’s economic climate.

Before exploring the cloud computing infrastructure and its impact on critically important areas to IT, like security, infrastructure investments, business application development and more, we shall see how traditional server concept works.

1.1. Life before Cloud Computing:

1.1.a The Traditional Server Concept:

System Administrators often used to talk about servers as a whole unit that includes the hardware, the OS, the storage, and the applications. Servers are often referred to by their function i.e. the Exchange server, the SQL server, the File server, etc.

If something goes wrong

If the File server fills up, or the Exchange server becomes overtaxed, then the System Administrator must add in a new server. Unless there are multiple servers, if a service experiences a hardware failure, then the service is down. System Administrators can implement clusters of servers to make them more faults tolerant. However, even clusters have limits on their scalability, and not all applications work in a clustered environment. This raised issues on server maintenance and thus originating the concept of Virtual server.

1.1.b. The Virtual Server Concept:

Virtual Server – Close up

Virtual server concept separates the server software away from the hardware. This includes the OS, the applications, and the storage for that server. Servers end up as mere files stored on a physical box, or in enterprise storage. A virtual server can be serviced by one or more hosts, and one host may house more than one virtual server. Virtual servers can still be referred to by their function i.e. email server, database server, etc. If the environment is built correctly, virtual servers will not be affected by the loss of a host. Hosts may be removed and introduced almost at will to accommodate maintenance. Virtual servers can be scaled out easily. If the administrators find that the resources supporting a virtual server are being taxed too much, they can adjust the amount of resources allocated to that virtual server. Server templates can be created in a virtual environment to be used to create multiple, identical virtual servers. Virtual servers themselves can be migrated from host to host almost at will.

1.2 Why Cloud Computing?

Suppose you are


Forbe server’s operation hours are from 9AM till 5PM in a day. Then why spend resources on the server during nights when it is not actually used? If Forbe’s host their server themselves then why leaving it idle during its non operational hours.

Forbe’s Solution:

Host the web site in Amazon’s EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud.

Provision new servers every day, and de-provision them every night.

Pay just $0.10* per server per hour or more for higher capacity servers.

Let Amazon worry about the hardware.

2. Background and Principle:

Cloud Computing:

Cloud Computing takes virtualization one step ahead. Virtualization is, “The ability to run multiple operating systems on a single physical system and share the underlying hardware resources.”

Whereas Cloud computing is, “The provisioning of services in a timely (near on instant), on-demand manner, to allow the scaling up and down of resources.”

2.1 Features of Cloud computing:

You don’t have to own the hardware.

You “rent” it as needed from a cloud.

There are public clouds.

e.g. Amazon EC2, and now many others (Microsoft, IBM, Sun, and others …)

A company can create a private one with more control over security, etc.

Various providers let you create virtual servers

Set up an account, perhaps just with a credit card

You create virtual servers (“virtualization”)

Choose the OS and software each “instance” will have

It will run on a large server farm located somewhere

You can instantiate more on a few minutes’ notice

You can shut down instances in a minute or so

They send you a bill for what you use

2.2 Definition:

The term “Cloud” is the default symbol for the internet cloud.

The broader term of “computing” encompasses:


Coordination Logic


“Cloud Computing is about moving computing from the single desktop pc/data centers to the internet.”

Alternately Cloud computing is,

“A computing capability that provides an abstraction between the computing resource and its underlying technical architecture (e.g., servers, storage, networks), enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

2.3 Characteristics of Cloud Computing:

Agility – rapidly and inexpensively re-provision technological infrastructure resources.

APIs – accessibility to software that enables machines to interact with cloud software.

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Cost – reduction in cost.

Device and location independence – enable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location.

Multi-tenancy – enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users.

Reliability – is improved.

Scalability – via dynamic (“on-demand”) provisioning of resources.

Security – could improve due to centralization of data, increased security-focused resources.

Maintenance – of cloud computing applications is easier, since they don’t have to be installed on each user’s computer.

Metering – means that cloud computing resources usage should be measurable and should be metered per client and application on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

3. Cloud Computing Model/Architecture

3.1. Cloud Computing Architecture

If you consider the cloud computing system, the entire system is divided into two sections, one if front end and the second one is back end. Both these sections are connected with each other via a network and in most of the cases the network is internet. The front side is the interface where the users log in and work on the back end cloud section.

3.1.a. Front End

As mentioned earlier front end is the section where the user logs in. The front end is nothing but the computers used by the consumers or clients with some applications needed to access the cloud computing systems. All the cloud computing systems may not give the same front end to the users.

3.1.b. Back End

Physical peripherals are referred as back end here. In cloud computing  back end section is nothing but cloud itself which may comprise of various computer machines, data storage systems, servers etc. There may more than one clouds and set of these clouds form a whole cloud computing system. Theoretically speaking, a cloud can have any type of human imaginable computer machine program, which can be anything from video games to data processing or software development to entertainment.

Example of Cloud Computing

A very commonly used application is email and this is a very simple and basic example of Cloud Computing. Hotmail or Gmail or Yahoo mail uses cloud computing. If you need to send or receive a mail, all that you need is internet connection.

Few things to note

The cost to operate cloud computing is very much cheaper than having a personal company infrastructure and maintenance.

At the other hand, since all your files, mails and database are hosted in the servers of service providers, privacy and security of your data is the biggest concern.

3.2 Types of Cloud Computing

A cloud environment can be broadly classified into three types considering the network infrastructure and installation. They are public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud.

3.2.a. Public Cloud

A public cloud is where the service is provided on demand for any clients. This is the most popular type of cloud system and is considered as a main-stream cloud system by cloud computing experts. A third party service provider provides both storage space and computing capability for all the application software in public cloud system. Popular examples are Amazon web and Google apps.

Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet.

The main benefits of using a public cloud service are:

Easy and inexpensive set-up because hardware, application and bandwidth costs are covered by the provider.

Scalability to meet needs.

No wasted resources because you pay for what you use.

3.2.b. Private Cloud

A private cloud is managed by the organization it serves. Unlike public cloud, you need to set up your own data center and also bear all the installation & maintenance cost, and have complete control of all your data. Designed to appeal to an organization that needs or wants more control over their data than they can get by using a third-party hosted service.

The main advantage of private cloud over public is it provides more security and privacy, but it is more expensive than public cloud.

3.2.c. Hybrid Cloud

If you consider the main responsibility of an IT department of an organization is to provide services to the business. The new catch phrase “hybrid cloud computing” has become popular with the rise of cloud computing (both private and public) and the need that IT departments must also deliver services via traditional, in-house methods. Different vendors who offer hybrid cloud services are IBM, VMware, HP, Oracle etc. In short we can say hybrid cloud computing is a combination of public and private clouds. Similarly a hybrid storage cloud is a combination of private and public storage clouds. This system is also helpful to backup and archive, in turn local data replicated on a public cloud

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The Cloud Computing Architecture of a cloud solution is the structure of the system, which comprise on-premise and cloud resources, services, middleware, and software components, geo-location, the externally visible properties of those, and the relationships between them.

3.3. Infrastructure as a service (Iaas)

Provision model in which an organization outsources the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components.

Infrastructure as a Service is sometimes referred to as Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it.

The client typically pays on a per-use basis.

The entire cost of hardware, servers, networking equipment and maintenance are bear by the service provider. The consumer just has to pay to take the computing service and build their own application software.

IaaS allows an organization to run entire data center application stacks, from the operating system up to the application, on a service provider’s infrastructure. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud is perhaps the most famous public cloud infrastructure available.

3.4. Platform as a service (Paas)

The service provider only provides platform or a stack of solutions for your users. It helps users saving investment on hardware and software. Google Gc engine and provide this type of service.

Platform in the cloud is a set of application or software which runs on platform which is hosted in the cloud. The users execute the application in the platforms hosted by the cloud provider through the platform or Application Program Interface (API). Googleapps is an example of platform services.

PaaS involves providing a platform on which a customer can run its own applications. For example, a small company might have a Java application to which it has trouble providing enough resources during holiday peak loads. The company might go to a platform provider, such as Akamai, to run the system on its Java application server framework. Microsoft, and Google also provide platforms on which customers can run applications.

3.5. Software as a service (Saas)

In software as a service model, along with the front end, providers provide both hardware and software infrastructure and the users interact with the system through the front end portal. Microsoft Outlook used to send and receive mails, Microsoft exchange is a very good example where the exchange server is hosted in a Microsoft cloud.

The main theme behind Saas is that the service provider will provide consumers the service of using their application software. Example: Google (GOOG), (CRM), NetSuite (N).

SaaS is far and away the most common model of cloud service: Companies buy access to an application but have no responsibility for (and no control over) its implementation. More than 60% of companies that Nemertes works with already use at least one (and often several ) applications that they get via SaaS, ranging from horizontally useful tools such as customer relationship management (as with to more vertically specific tools for such tasks as insurance claims adjustment, classroom scheduling and medical billing management.

4. Applications of Cloud

4.1. Email on the go:

Email communication now plays a central role in most of our busy lives.This is one area where the cloud finds its most frequent and useful application.

Online email has been offered by all the big names (such as Microsoft, Yahoo and of course Google) for a number of years.

Using webmail makes you a slave to an internet connection. The first thing you do when you find yourself in a new or unfamiliar location is to try and locate an internet café or public library to launch your secure portable browser and check your emails.

The issue of possible data loss, which nicely leads onto the next incarnation of cloud computing.

4.2. No need for local data storage

Data stored on your home or business computer suffers from many of the same restrictions as email and, as with email, the cloud offers a solution.

Storing MP3′s, video, photos and documents online instead of at home gives you the freedom to access them wherever you can find the means to get online.

Examples of online storage services include Humyo, ZumoDrive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, S3 from Amazon, amongst others. Many offer both free and paid for storage and backup solutions.

4.3. Info Sharing (Online collaborator)

On occasion you may find yourself in need of the opinion of your peers.

Last year Google launched a service that allowed groups of people to work on the same document, idea or proposal in real time or whenever convenient to each participant.

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Using Google Wave you can create a document and then invite others to comment, amend, offer opinion, or otherwise join in with the creation of the final draft.

Google is not alone in producing online collaboration tools but it is the only one I have used myself. Other examples include Spicebird, Mikogo, Stixy and Vyew to name but a few.

Similar to instant messaging but offering much more scope it can take a project that might have taken weeks or even months to complete using other methods and potentially see it through to completion in mere minutes or hours.

4.4. Working in a virtual office

Yet again Google’s online suite of office applications is probably the best known but by no means the only solution on offer.

Rather than having a system and space hogging suite of applications like a word processor, a spreadsheet creator and a presentation or publishing platform sitting on your computer, you could opt to work online instead.

Accessibility, potential for collaboration and perhaps even online storage are just some of the benefits of satisfying your office suite needs by working online.

Examples of online suite’s on offer include Ajax13, ThinkFree and Microsoft’s Office Live.

4.5. Benefits of Cloud Computing

Infinite compute resource available on demand

Hardware virtualization

Accessibility anytime and anywhere

Internet (web based) access

Elimination of the upfront commitment of users

Reduced costs due to dynamic hardware provisioning

Pay per use basis (and also other models)

No need to plan for peak load in advance

Easy management

Software versioning and upgrading

5. Research Areas

A number of universities, vendors and government organizations are investing in research around the topic of cloud computing.

Academic institutions include University of Melbourne (Australia), Georgia Tech, Yale, Wayne State, Virginia Tech, University of Wisconsin Madison, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Indiana University, University of Massachusetts, North Carolina State, Purdue, University of California, University of Washington, University of Virginia, University of Utah, University of Minnesota, among others.

Joint government, academic and vendor collaborative research projects include the IBM/Google Academic Cloud Computing Initiative (ACCI).

In October 2007 IBM and Google announced the multi- university project designed to enhance students’ technical knowledge to address the challenges of cloud computing.

In April 2009, the National Science Foundation joined the ACCI and awarded approximately $5 million in grants to 14 academic institutions.

In July 2008, HP, Intel Corporation and Yahoo! announced the creation of a global, multi-data center, open source test bed, called Open Cirrus, designed to encourage research into all aspects of cloud computing, service and datacenter management.

Open Cirrus partners include the NSF, the University of Illinois (UIUC), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), the Malaysian Institute for Microelectronic Systems(MIMOS), and the Institute for System Programming at the Russian Academy of Sciences (ISPRAS).

The Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) project provides the world’s largest production grid infrastructure for applications for use by more than 10,000 researchers from 50 countries, according to the European Union EGEE Web site.

5.1. Security

The relative security of cloud computing services is a contentious issue which may be delaying its adoption.

This delivers great incentive amongst cloud computing service providers in producing a priority in building and maintaining strong management of secure services.

One organization in particular, the Cloud Security Alliance is a non-profit organization formed to promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within cloud computing.

6. Conclusion

The integration of cloud-based services is in its early days.

OpSource, which mainly concerns itself with serving SaaS providers, recently introduced the OpSource Services Bus, which employs in-the-cloud integration technology from a little startup called Boomi.

SaaS provider Workday recently acquired another player in this space, Cape Clear, an ESB (enterprise service bus) provider that was edging toward b-to-b integration.

Way ahead of its time, Grand Central — which wanted to be a universal “bus in the cloud” to connect SaaS providers and provide integrated solutions to customers — flamed out in 2005.

Today, with such cloud-based interconnection seldom in evidence, cloud computing might be more accurately described as “sky computing,” with many isolated clouds of services which IT customers must plug into individually.

On the other hand, as virtualization and SOA permeate the enterprise, the idea of loosely coupled services running on an agile, scalable infrastructure should eventually make every enterprise a node in the cloud. It’s a long-running trend with a far-out horizon. But among big megatrends, cloud computing is the hardest one to argue with in the long term.

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