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Cloud Computing Demystified

Posted on June 21st, 2011 by TimClaes

Cloud Computing? What is it all about?

 

With the launch of the iCloud by Apple, the phenomenon ‘cloud computing‘ revives. But what exactly is this all about? Many different flavours exist in cloud computing in B2B.

In essence it is about a new way of dealing with your datacenter. The ‘cloud model’ tries to manage multiple inefficiencies in your current datacenter environment. For example – through the use of cloud computing – you will be able to manage better the overcapacity and under-capacity of allocated ICT resources (networking, data, storage, processing power). If the demand changes over time, you try to adjust your capacity of ICT resources accordingly – on demand & scalable. Scalable in such a way that it becomes even possible to implement new kinds of architecture set-ups. Architecture designs that were not feasible in the old days, but now – with the limitation taken away of the scalability – these designs could suddenly become very attractive and interesting for your business.

On top of that – depending on the cloud computing flavour – you only pay for what you use. So cloud computing is clearly much more than virtualisation, a term cloud computing sometimes is confused with. Virtualisation is one of the main techniques used to make cloud computing possible in practice.

Now when does it become interesting for your organization to consider a ‘cloud model’? Cost optimization is of course an important driver, but how do you measure this cost and which are the business scenario’s that have a major impact on your costs?

4 Interesting Business scenario’s for cloud computing

 

  1. On and Off” – Do you have many batch processes running on your servers? And as such a lot of idle servers most of the time, that are only running on full capacity during very specific moments? (eg. monthly close of the figures)
  2. Growing fast” – Are you in a fast growing market? Do you have a start-up company and expect to grow exponentially over the upcoming months/years? Are you launching new services in the market and don’t know yet how the public will respond? These are ideal candidates for the cloud.
  3. Unpredictable bursting” – Do you sometimes have unplanned ‘peaks’ in the demand for capacity of ICT resources? (eg. the volcano of iceland that becomes active, this influences all air companies and the frequent schedule updates on the websites)
  4. Predictable bursting” – Do you offer services where you know upfront that you will have certain peaks you need to deal with? (E.g. certain on-line marketing campaign, certain big events, …) Then the cloud becomes an interesting scenario.

 

When you consider to take the step to move to the cloud, it does not need to be all or nothing right from the start. Many ‘in-between’ solutions exist depending on your exact needs. To start with you can simply start by optimizing your own datacenter and if necessary you can move to an external datacenter with extra scalability advantages, but where you can still ask for dedicated servers as well, next to the shared servers with other customers. and off course you also have the public cloud, provided to you by companies like google, microsoft… where by definition all the servers are made available in a shared mode.

On these environments you can then choose for yourself how far you want to go with ‘as a service’. Instead of maintaining the infrastructure yourself , you can decide to ‘outsource’ this, then we talk about Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service). But you could also go 1 step further and decide to also outsource the databases, the security & integration services, then we talk about Paas (Platform as a Service). Sometimes it could even be interesting to outsource complete applications and then we talk about Saas (Software as a Service).

iCloud of Apple

 

Now with the launch of iCloud of Apple, Cloud computing gets a new dimension. It is no longer used in a B2B context – as described above, but it now also becomes rapidly available in a B2C context.

In this context Cloud computing is all about ease of use, making it possible to share data across multiple devices rapidly and no longer having the need for a physical hard drive.

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