Cloud Computing: A New Paradigm in the IT Industry
As the IT field evolves, it becomes more mature, the need to optimize cost naturally drives the innovation and creativity. The new concept coupled with technology, which is now doing rounds is ‘cloud computing’.
I had come across people, with limited IT knowledge enquiring me as what is ‘cloud computing’?. Though, I had tried to explain to them in best possible way, most of the time, I end up a vacant stare from them, which was indicative that they did not understand the concept or background behind cloud computing.
What is cloud computing?.
Quite recently, I have started giving them example of home with kitchen Vs restaurant towards explaining the concept behind ‘cloud computing’. A kitchen at home is dedicated for home, the resources – may it be the vessels or appliances or the cooking person is dedicated to that home. The owner of the home invests in kitchen and avails the assistance of having the kitchen to him or her or the members of his family. It’s the owner of the house who has to continue the kitchen. When one compares home kitchen with restaurant, the end objective is same, which is specific food is offered, but how food is prepared or serviced is different. One does not own anything is a restaurant except for the food offered. In a nutshell same is concept between Traditional IT offering Vs cloud computing.
Just like home kitchen, in case of traditional IT offering, the company owns the hardware and licenses for software and at times company outsources application development to a 3rd party which is comparable to chef hired (if a person is high) to prepare food at home. With evolution of IT sector in hardware & software, we are marching towards ‘restaurant’ form of IT sets; you just pay for what is your end objective – ‘processed food’ or ‘sets’. Like in a restaurant, in which you are only concerned about the quality of food and expected service offering and not much bothered about who is the chef, waiter or the kitchen appliances or already where the kitchen is, so is the case with ‘cloud computing’, the customer is focused on service offering and not on hardware, software, raw information or resources employed to provide the service offering or end product.
Organizations are not going to jump into cloud computing, they would evolve and move towards characteristic of cloud computing infrastructure over period of time as they feel confident about the same. As far as cloud computing is concerned, I believe we are at stage, similar to, as of early 90’s with respect to IT sets outsourcing. IT sets were outsourced, so that organization could concentrate on the ‘chief’ business area, cloud computing could well be a further step forward.
Now, let look at the service models typically considered in cloud computing.
SAaS: Software – as – a service:
This form is talked about quite some time now, business application are hosted on server maintained by data centers. Legal issues, security, integration and confidentiality of data of the deterring factors on this form at this point of time. Once policies, procedures, standards get defined and perfected our the period of time, this is bound to get adopted, over period of time.
In terms of usage, the application are accessed by web browser and terms and condition could be governed by service level agreements.
Possible examples could be simple free generic email service to complicate ERP system..
IaaS: Infrastructure – as – a service:
Computation servers, storage, hardware are considered under this service form. One would also find free on storage offered in web, this could be referred as IaaS.
PaaS: Platform – as – a service:
Development and deployment platform could be offered as a service to developers to build, deploy manage, application on SAaS.
If one looks at cloud deployment strategy, its typically, public, private and hybrid clouds. I feel the name itself quite meaningful to describe about the kind.
The next question is any one’s mind would be, what kind of hardware does one require towards hosting cloud computing?.
At this point of time, typically cloud computing is deployed in traditional form. By traditional form, I average one might have a server to cater database tier or application tier, which is almost a ‘silos’ based form. But, since cloud computing, one need to have efficient hardware and manpower(refer to my example of restaurant) to manage cloud better in a data centre. This is where hardware could play a main role, the new technology like grid computing, real application clusters, automatic storage management, server extent up and server virtualization features plays in important role toward better management and deployment of cloud.
As we progress, we would well be moving away from ‘Silos’ based computer system and application. Cloud computing infrastructure would be residing in data centre, this would call for efficient use of hardware and more over manpower would need to sustain multiple servers or application. Optimization and effective control would play larger roles in infrastructure management of these data centre towards cloud computing.
Standards in cloud computing are evolving and as per a leading standards organization, some of the meaningful characteristics towards cloud computing are,
Resource Pooling:The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant form. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources.
Rapid elasticity: Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some situations automatically, to extent rapidly outward and inward commensurate with need. To the consumer, the capabilities obtainable for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.
Measured service: Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the kind of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be observed, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.
As this leads to a situation where, cloud computing needs to provide sets wherein there is zero downtime and resources being shared, so naturally hardware for cloud computing is getting evolved, the technology related to Grid computing, gathering – RAC, better performing servers and server virtualization has been increasing offered by vendors towards satisfying the characteristics of cloud computing.
A fleeting look at the terminologies and technology used,
A cluster consists of a group of independent but interconnected computers whose combined resources can be applied to a processing task. A ‘clusterware’ is a term used to describe software that provides interfaces and sets that permit and sustain a cluster. The combination of clusterware, automatic storage management provides a unified cluster solution that is the foundation to real application cluster database.
Real application clusters allows multiple nodes in a clustered system to mount and open a single database that resides on shared disk storage. Should a single system (node) fail, the database service will nevertheless be obtainable on the remaining nodes.
It might nevertheless require few more years before cloud computing matures and it might well re-define the IT outsourcing map.
The author is PMP certified specialized and writes his own blog at http://indian-amps.blogspot.com