Cloud Computing

What is a cloud of computers? Will be my business more profitable if I will use one or more a cloud systems? These are just two questions that a normal business owner or a normal internet may ask.

Clouds Computing is a term used by everybody and as usual, when a topic is trendy then, asking 10 professionals what is a cloud computing you will get 10 answers.

A. Introduction

First time when I heard about Clod computing was in 2009. SUN* early breakfast – Sydney.

This year, at CeBit Australia** most of the big companies, and not only advertise their cloud inviting all their customers and internet visitors to register and to use it.

A few weeks ago, at another early breakfast conference organised by Oracle in Sydney, Oracle official speaker unveiled that in a few months time Oracle will launch the “Oracle Private Cloud”

Apple, Google and Microsoft online system are the most common clouds and most of us are using them every day. Drop box is using a cloud system. RackSpace (Internet provider) is using a cloud. Salesforce.com is running in a cloud (based on Oracle)

B. Concept

The cloud computing, as concept started at the same time with the “virtualization” in the middle 90′s.

Trying to keep simple and going to root of the cloud concept you may accept that “the cloud” has two sides (very rough classification):

  • Hardware
  • Software (application level)

1. Hardware

1.1 Let’s suppose you have a website or a web application. Your service provider has a few physical machines in a datacentre in Sydney for example. To make the system to be easy to manage and to keep the downtime under control for example the IT staff of that company implement “virtualization”.

From your perspective, as user of their system all is transparent but for them it is a fantastic step ahead because now they can for example: start, stop and allocate more or less resources to a specific server with click of mouse.

All virtual machines are, however running on one or more physical machines inside the same rack (datacente).

At this point you may consider that there is no cloud, it is pure virtualization.

1.2 For vary reasons they decide to buy or rent a few more physical machines in a datacentre in Dallas, USA and then organise all in such manner that one or more virtual servers can run in Dalas or can be backed up in Dallas. Considering this, your website or web application can be anywhere. How you can find where is it at a specific moment of time? Google “IP locator” and you will find out.

At this point may consider that there is cloud and not only virtualization.

2. Software (application level)

Now we will just ignore “hardware”. Does not matter where are the (virtual) servers.

2.1. Just imagine now you are using a FTP service to upload big files to your website for example and then you send the link of your files to someone else (a client) who need them. All is based on “htaccess” so only him, based on a password can download his files.

FTP services is implemented into the core of any server since 80′s and it is provided by default in cPanel for example. You may consider this is not a cloud system

2.2 Later, you customer ask you why you are not using DropBox. It will be more easy to share with him your documents and there will be no stress to sever authentication anytime he try to get a document.

DropBox is a complex, secure (they say) and easy to use Web based sharing system. All you need is an account on this system. What have done IT people from DropBox? They build a web application using a standard sever software configuration. They created a new software layer in between you as user and the core of the operating system making your life easy. You may consider this is a cloud system.

C. Notes:

You may consider “public vs private cloud”. That’s easy. I hope. If you do not consider Geo-location and you focus only on “who access” your infrastructure (hardware and software) then if only your employee can access all data then you may consider you have a “private cloud” and anything else will be “public cloud”.

D. Short summary.

What is cloud computing? Just now there is not such definition. The answer depends of who ask and who answer

For any business the most relevant aspect of this issue is how to save money. Today IT related costs are pretty relevant in most of the companies. To make all easy to understand I will give two more examples:

1. You have your own servers and your very own exchange servers / apple mail server inside the company. What costs can be: hardware maintenance and hardware and software upgrades. On top, if one the machines is going down for vary reasons there is no network, no access etc. or your IT staff have and maintain a backup system. It means more expenses for you.

2.You have all your emails and documents on Google or Microsoft platform and you keep in the company only what you wish to be “more secure” or accessible even you have no internet connection (hard to believe this is a realistic scenario noways). What costs can be: subscriptions to your provider(s) Google, Microsoft and or others. There are no servers hardware & software to maintain and /or upgrade.

How far you are going in a cloud with company data and apps? Will you use a private or a public cloud? Will be or not a full backup of all data from the cloud on local system? All are decisions you have to take. What we can do is to help you with professionals advices.

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