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Cloud 101: the definitions, the benefits, the ubiquitous

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All these terms and more detailed definitions can be found on the National Institute of Standards and Technology website: http://www.nist.gov/index.html.

The old concept (IBM® Mainframe) is back with a new name, new vision, and new infrastructure: cloud. Well, not new, still in its infancy, but exponentially growing. So, what is this cloud and how are businesses choosing, from the variety of cloud models, to meet their needs? Basically, here is a simple explanation of the available cloud models to choose and various cloud terms. In addition to the terms and definitions in this discussion, I explain what a private cloud structure is and what offerings IBM has.

Private cloud
In this model, the IT capabilities are provided as a service over an intranet within the enterprise and behind a firewall.

Public cloud
The IT activities of functions are provided as a service over the Internet. The definition is self-explanatory; this model does not have a firewall, but has the system-level securities built within its service structure.

Hybrid cloud
In this model, the service delivery is integrated internally within the enterprise and externally over the Internet.

Traditional IT
Within this model, the IT capabilities are provided as a service over an intranet, within the enterprise, and behind the firewall.

Terms

As you read more about the cloud architecture and various offerings, you will come across key words SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. What are these terms and what do they mean?

Software as a service (SaaS)
The service provider or vendor hosts the applications and makes the services available to the customers over the Internet. A major example of SaaS is LotusLive, the collaboration tool.

Platform as a service (PaaS)
PaaS is the same principle as SaaS, except, here you rent the hardware, storage, network bandwidth, and operating system also over the Internet. Cost savings are seen in this model because the customer can choose from a wide variety of options that can be set up within minutes

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
This model includes both the SaaS and PaaS, and more of a provision model. The equipment is typically owned and maintained by the service provider; the service provider is responsible for hosting, running, and maintaining the server and its components.

This model also automates the administrative tasks and is elastic on demand to increase or decrease the needs. Customers typically use this model if they need to outsource the equipment to use for support operations that their clients usually pay on a per-use basis.

Challenges of traditional IT

Now that you know the definitions in simple terms, other than cost (which is a big deciding factor) what are the benefits of choosing a cloud, from either one or all of the models. Before I overlay the benefits, let us quickly review challenges or limitations of traditional IT:

  • Slashed budgets and keeping up with the economy, are the most important factors these days.
  • Complex middleware infrastructures are error-prone and introduce inconsistent configurations, and hours spent on debugging.
  • High cost of resources to manage legacy systems and unused hardware.
  • Fragile and static middleware infrastructure require constant reactions and attention to spikes in demand, and most times, the lack of isolating failures affect more than they save.

Benefits of private cloud offerings with IBMSmartCloud

  • Using the infrastructure to the maximum
  • Standardized middleware, with no-nonsense approach
  • Improved deployment speed and simplified application management
  • Elasticity, user chooses how much or how little is needed
  • Managed by the provider
  • Dynamic scalability

So, it makes sense theoretically, but how much time does a cloud really save? A picture is definitely worth a thousand words and here is a demo for IBM SmartCloud.

Now that you have seen how time and resources are truly a benefit, try the simulation.

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