Cloud computing essentials
Cloud computing brings a new level of efficiency and economy to delivering IT resources on demand - and in the process it opens up new business models and market opportunities. It shortens the time from sketching out an application architecture to the actual deployment.
From one perspective, cloud computing is nothing new because it uses approaches, concepts, and best practices that have already been established. From another perspective, everything is new because cloud computing changes how we invent, develop, deploy, scale, update, maintain, and pay for applications and the infrastructure on which they run.
The on-demand, self-service, pay-by-use model
The on-demand, self-service, pay-by-use nature of cloud computing is further extension of well established trends in IT industry. The on-demand nature of cloud computing, from an enterprise perspective, helps to support the performance and capacity aspects of service-level objectives. The self-service nature of cloud computing allows organizations to create elastic environments that expand and contract based on the workload and target performance parameters. And the pay-by-use nature of cloud computing, may take the form of equipment leases that guarantee a minimum level of service from a cloud provider. The ability to use and pay for only the resources used shifts the risk of how much infrastructure to purchase from the organization developing the application to the cloud provider.
Virtual machines – the standard deployment object
Virtual machines that include software that is partially or fully configured to perform a specific task such as a web or database server extremely enhance the ability to create and deploy applications rapidly. The combination of virtual machines and appliances as standard deployment objects is one of the key features of cloud computing.
Services are delivered over the network
Almost every business organization has recognized the value of Web-based interfaces to their applications, whether they are made available to customers over the Internet, or whether they are internal applications that are made available to authorized employees, partners, suppliers, and consultants. And cloud computing as inherently network based technology further extends the existing trend of making services available over the network.
Open source software
Open source software plays an important role in cloud computing by allowing its basic software elements - virtual machine images and appliances - to be created from easily accessible components. Also due to open source nature of virtual machine images it is possible to create public images, which is best suitable to perform particular tasks and to have easy access to such images already provided by community.
“It’s one of the foundations of the next generation of computing... It’s a world where the network is the platform for all computing, where everything we think of as a computer today is just a device that connects to the big computer we’re building. Cloud computing is a great way to think about how we’ll deliver computing services in the future.”
- Tim O’Reilly, CEO, O’Reilly Media
Cloud computing is all about efficiency. It provides a way to deploy and access everything from single systems to huge amounts of IT resources - on demand, in real time, at an affordable cost. It makes high-performance compute and high-capacity storage available to anyone with a credit card. And since the best cloud strategies build on concepts and tools that developers already know, clouds also have the potential to redefine the relationship between information technologies and the developers and business units that depend on it.
For end users, cloud computing means there are no hardware acquisition costs, no software licenses or upgrades to manage, no new employees or consultants to hire, no facilities to lease, no capital costs of any kind - and no hidden costs. Just a metered, per-use rate or a fixed subscription fee. Use only what you want, pay only for what you use.