What is Cloud Computing?

2009-10 has had several computing paradigms coming out but CLOUD COMPUTING has had too much share of this IT industry talks and this is just increasing daily because everyone is thinking Cloud. While i have always thought it is one of those IT jargon, I have come to conclude that yes it is one and yes it is not, why? hmm – it’s because its just the Cloud. Check this sentence from carinet.comThere, now that we have all the “buzzwords” out of the way, we can get to the business of it all. Grid/Cloud/Utility computing/hosting is the same thing“- True?

So what is Cloud Computing? is Cloud the Internet? How do i come into cloud? Whats in the cloud for me? How do i build a cloud? What research is left in cloud? how secured is cloud? is cloud not a revamped technology? … Brethren, Too much questions to ask about the cloud and i think i know why, It’s because of the hype around it.

NIST defines cloud computing as:

…a model for enabling 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. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models

After searching through the web, I realized that cloud is famously discussed around the 3 models (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS), 5 characteristics, and four models of deployment. However, as usual, every growing cloud niche is coining out a name for their cloud like CaaS (Communication as a Service), MaaS (Media as a Service), and a host of others are still coming. In this first draft, I’ll just run through the Models (service and deployment), and characteristics.

What are these Cloud Computing Service Models and Characteristics?

5 (Five) Characteristics of Cloud

I think while we all think cloud, we should give the cloud credits to virtualization because many of the cloud technology and operations are available thanks to virtualization. The 5 Characteristics of Cloud

  1. On-Demand Self Service e.g. Heroku
  2. Resource Pooling e.g. Amazon’s Ec2
  3. Encapsulate Rapid Elasticity e.g WordPress, Amazon Web Service
  4. Broad Network Access e.g. Accessing Software everywhere, google docs
  5. Measured Service: A way to measure service rendered.

More info on characteristics in later episode. The figure below describes the cloud models in a single shot.

3 (Three) Service Models

My best part of the Cloud are the Service Models or what is also termed The Cloud Solutions i.e.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The consumer uses “fundamental computing resources”such as processing power, storage, networking components or middle-ware.The consumer can control the operating system, storage,
deployed applications and possibly networking. Just say, you are provided with On-demand computing and Storage e.g. GoGrid, Amazon EC2, rackspace e.t.c.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): The consumer uses a hosting environment for their applications.The consumer controls the applications that run in the environment but does not control the operating system, hardware or network infrastructure on which they are running. technically, This are Application Execution Environments e.g. Google AppEngine, Salesforce.com, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Engine Yard e.t.c
Software as a Service (SaaS): The consumer uses an application, but does not control the operating system, hardware or network infrastructure on which it’s running.This includes Consumer Services and B2B web Services e.g Google Apps, Windows Live, Mobile ME, AWS , Zoho e.t.c.
4 (Four) Deployment Models

A public cloud is a cloud made available to the general public (Pay-as-you-go) for use and is the most common type of cloud. Users of a public cloud sign up with the cloud provider and make payments based on the provider’s pricing schema. Examples include Amazon Web Services, Google applications, or similar cloud-based services.

A community cloud is a cloud made available to a certain group or association. For example, a consortium of schools might decide to create a community cloud. Payments for use of the cloud might be made via dues to the consortium or through some other equitable pricing schema

A Private cloud is a cloud made available at only one particular institution. e.g. an internal data center of a business or organization.

A hybrid cloud combines two or more of the other cloud deployment models. Perhaps part of the system lives inside a community cloud, while the remainder lives in a private cloud.

Some thots on Cloud…

Cloud computing is complex. While many people have concerns about its current uses, there is no doubt that it is changing the way we provide systems and services. I believe the more we are informed about cloud, the more we are able to use it. Involvement of Cloud computing in todays business is something to explore. The IT industry as taking the lead with the likes of Google, Microsoft, AWS, IBM and others with Infrastructures, One Stop Application environment, Software plug-ins and services – facebook, AWS, Zoho, OpenERP e.t.c What about other industries like Telecommunication, Academics, Businesses, Stock, Justice, Media?

Telecommunication vendors and operators are carving out mediums for cloud facilities. While it is still in the planning room, the question is which services are “cloudable”?. Presently, we have operators building their data centers to accommodate their ever growing customers especially in Africa. Would Cloud work? Lets say for instance, we have 3 data centers in West Africa (for redundancy and damage) and all Operators use there IaaS and PaaS from there, would it work? or vendors like Ericsson, Alcatel, Huawei stop trying to sell nodes and services on the operators infrastructures instead allow these SaaS like IPTV, Media and MM services run on cloud and Operators subscribe to it as their demand increases instead of paying huge amount for a service that may take years to evolve or may never do.

I keep looking at the Educational sector and i say what can the cloud do? While the idea of dedicated hosting and Private Clouds will almost appeal due to Institutional portals and research works. I still think cloud will work because at least you pay for what you use. Peak portal access like registrations and admissions periods consumes high bandwidth but its temporal and many Institutions have stash of servers not fully utilized today. Since admissions and registration periods are almost never aligned, do you think an hybrid cloud where 2 or more Institution can plug in looks feasible? this can make them focus more on research, teaching and learning and leave IT management to a safe hand with low opex.

There are more than a hundred ways to use cloud but i think i agree that it is a growing technology because its end-2-end has not been fully designed. Security is key factor on Cloud today, Measuring Service is one way to talk about Clouds issue, The business of the Central Cloud – How would this work? and one big questions, Are big business ready to thrust their Apps and Data to one end of the world just like that?

Like i said earlier, cloud is complex, It involves planning, Includes a major IT change, has its own risks but i just think you just have to find what works for you when it comes to IT.

Till we see again in the Cloud – Im thinking some African Perspective to Cloud as in Governments, small business, you and me. “Permet de continuer à parler Cloud