November 1, 2014 | Written by: Nicolas Torcasio
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Today, the cloud is affecting how we have discussions in information technology (IT) and business sectors. In fact, “cloudstorming” is a term that has been used to describe brainstorming around cloud-related projects. But to fully understand this idea, we need to start at the beginning of cloud. The concept of the cloud was taken from the idea that the Internet is a “cloud” of servers. Since the service providers are remote to the subscriber’s organization, they are deemed as being in the cloud of the Internet.
We can define cloud computing as a style of computing in which applications, data and IT resources are provided as services to users over the Internet. It is both a user experience and a business model. Cloud also brings a level of standardization to infrastructure management methodology. This is because cloud computing drives cost reduction and simplification by the consolidation and more efficient utilization of existing resources.
Now that we know what cloud is, the second step is to learn about the types of cloud offerings: private, public and hybrid cloud. While there are many differences between these three types of service, the main distinction that separates them is whether the infrastructure is shared or not. With public cloud services, the hosts are shared between customers, whereas in the private cloud the infrastructure is dedicated. Hybrid cloud service is then a mix of the private and public cloud models. Some time ago, a key differentiator for these services was where the infrastructure was located. In a private cloud, the infrastructure would be housed in the customer’s facilities, but now some companies like IBM SoftLayer provide the chance for their clients to build their own private cloud in a bigger public infrastructure with a bare metal offering.
In addition to the types of cloud services, we can also talk about the service layers or how the services are delivered: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). With IaaS, the cloud provider offers computers, physical or virtual machines and other resources such as storage. For PaaS, the cloud vendor delivers a computing platform, which typically includes an operating system, a programming language execution environment, a database and a web server. SaaS users are provided with access to application software and databases.
So now we have the origin of “cloud” in IT—we’ve given the term meaning, we know the different types of cloud services and we’ve looked at the various service layers. We can finally start brainstorming about our cloud projects. But, haven’t we already been talking about the cloud for a while now? Such is the dilemma faced by organizations these days. Application development, migrating outdated environments, buying new services, outsourcing management, project implementation and so many other topics today are around the same theme: cloud computing.
One week ago, I was talking with a colleague about a hardware implementation project. After a few minutes, we realized that the conversation topic had switched to the cloud. We just laughed and tried to figure out how a talk about hardware had ended up with a cloud in the middle. Essentially, our IT discussion had been interrupted by the cloud and we had been “cloudstorming.”
Today, all IT discussions must have cloud at their center, not only because of the benefits of this type of service such as scalability, reliability, physical security, flexibility, responsive load balancing and the utility style of cost model, but also because all decision makers should evaluate this mature service for their project implementation.
Cloud computing is already upon us. It’s an inevitable part of our daily life in IT, so I recommend cloudstorming with your colleagues more frequently so you can discover all the benefits that cloud could have for your organization. What recent IT discussions have you had that suddenly became about cloud?
Connect with me on Twitter @nikotorcasio to discuss this and more cloud topics.