Friday, June 15, 2012

Cloud Computing : A Paradigm Shift in Digital Data management

Part -1, The industry shift towards cloud computing

The last few years have seen the cloud computing marketplace explode like a high-tech Wild West- exciting, chaotic, fast-growing, and full of opportunity. That’s because cloud computing offers the promise of ubiquitous, scalable, on-demand computing resources provided as a service for everything from mobile devices to supercomputers.

According to a recent study by market researcher IDC, The cloud computing is going to generate 14 million jobs globally by 2015. Users want to access their content from any Internet-connected device and never running out of storage. It is expected that by 2020, computing and storage will be in the cloud, and we’ll stop calling it the cloud.

Cloud computing can be considered as the “fourth wave” of computing following mainframes, client-servers and the Internet. The more people use the cloud, the more they like it.

Are you using a cloud computing service? Why or why not? Will cloud computing take over as the main form of data storage? Professional digest did a deep dive on cloud computing and bringing you a series of articles covering the basics, adoption, challenges, industry trends, standards and future road maps.

What Is Cloud Computing?

There are many informal understandings of what cloud computing is and isn't. The US national Institute of standards and technology describes it as services that are accessed over a standardized network and that satisfy the following characteristics:

Rapid Elasticity

To quickly scale up or down, capabilities can be rapidly ordered or released, in some cases automatically. To the customer, the capabilities available may appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time


Paid for cloud services only when used for short term (e.g. CPU time) or for longer duration (e.g. cloud based storage)

Resource pooling

The cloud provider's resources are pooled to serve multiple customers, with physical and virtual resources including storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth, and virtual machines dynamically assigned and reassigned according to customer demand. The customer generally has no control over or knowledge of the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level (such as country, state, or data center).

Measured service

Cloud systems control and optimize resource use by measuring how each customer uses their services (such as storage, processing, and bandwidth).


Cloud services hosted for multiple users within the same infrastructure.

Workload movement

Cloud computing providers can migrate workload across servers – both inside data center and across data centers.

Major Cloud models

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

With IaaS, clients have access to virtual servers in the service provider’s data center. You can use those servers any way you want. Users install their own software, and they’re responsible for maintaining it. The benefit here is that you get flexibility and scalability. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud(EC2), is an IaaS

Platform as a service (PaaS)

PaaS includes all the features of IaaS, but clients use the provider’s computing platform, which typically includes an operating system, developer tools, database, and Web server. Users can develop and run their software in the cloud without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware. For example, the Google App Engine, with which users develop and host Web applications using Google’s development tools. With PaaS you get better economies of scale, but platform providers lock down the service so that you can’t use your own tools.

Software as a service (SaaS )

With SaaS, cloud providers install and operate application software such as Salesforce, Seibel CRM tool that users can access. Users don’t have to worry about managing the infrastructure or platform on which the application runs—the cloud provider handles that. You have the least flexibility with SaaS, because you are just using the provider’s software, but you get dramatically better economies of scale.

Web services

Web Service in the cloud providers offer APIs that enable developers to exploit functionality over the Internet, rather than delivering full-blown applications e.g. Google Maps, ADP payroll processing.

MSP (Managed Service Providers)

A managed service is basically an application exposed to IT rather than to end-users, such as a virus scanning service for e-mail or an application monitoring service.

Types of Cloud

Public Cloud : Cloud service where data centers are external to users of the service. Both the infrastructure and control of the clouds is with the service provider.

Private Cloud: Cloud provider is responsible only for the infrastructure and not for the control. Same as section of shared data center being partitioned for use by specific customer.

Internal Cloud: Cloud services provided by the IT department of an enterprise from the company’s own data centers.

Community Cloud: Shares infrastructure between several organizations from a specific community with common concerns.

Hybrid Cloud: A composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering benefits of multiple deployment models.

Adoption Accelerators

Although cloud computing generates lots of excitement these days, it’s not a new idea, People have been able to use someone else’s software on their systems for a long time. What has made cloud computing so popular now is a combination of technological advances and a change in mindset. The adoption of Web browsers as a standard user interface and increased Internet bandwidth have really made the dramatic rise possible. You don’t need to install anything on anyone’s computer to work with the cloud, because a Web browser is already in place. Cloud computing has accelerated mainly because of the adoption of virtualization, specifically server virtualization.

Virtualization: Virtualization software is used to run multiple Virtual Machines on a single physical server to provide same functions as multiple physical machines. The virtualization software (known as hypervisor) performs the abstraction of the hardware to individual VMs. Hypervisor supports running of multiple VMs and schedules the VMs and provides them a unified and consistent access to CPU, memory and I/O resources on physical machine.  VM Migration allows to move an entire VM from one machine to another and continue operation of the VM on the second machine. This is an advantage unique to virtualized environments.

Several other advances have fueled cloud computing’s widespread adoption. These include object storage, which refers to metadata for stored content; duplication, in which multiple copies of a piece of data can be aggregated as one copy; and the evolution of enterprise storage tiering. Tiering is a process where data that is most often accessed or that requires fast response is kept on the storage system with the fastest throughput.

Future Ahead

The smartphone is the fastest-growing consumer technology in history, having reached 50 percent penetration of U.S. households in just 7 years. It took the home computer nearly 20 years to do the same thing. Cloud computing will give smartphone users effectively infinite computing resources at their mobile beck and call. There are dozens of specification and standards development organizations and industry associations already working on standards in the cloud space, although there are few completed cloud standards or specifications to date. A recent research study by Visiongain reported that the cloud computing market will reach a value of $37.9 billion by the end of 2012. The study further predicts that the cloud computing market will steadily continue along the road to expansion over the next five years, particularly in developed countries. The findings also indicate that more than 30% of worldwide enterprises make use of at least one cloud-based solution.

Whatever the future brings, one thing’s for sure, all businesses should be thinking about the cloud. If you don’t become educated about cloud computing and the potential it has for expanding your business and lowering operating costs, you will be at a significant competitive disadvantage. In other words, if a business isn’t looking into the cloud, it is spending way more on IT than it has to. As I mentioned before, It is expected that by 2020, computing and storage will be in the cloud, and we’ll stop calling it the cloud.

In the next article ‘theprofessionaldigest’ brings you the typical challenges facing currently and the ongoing solutions.


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