Cloud Computing is currently one of the most hyped and publicized trends in IT. This is because, done effectively, a cloud-based, ‘virtualized’ infrastructure can offer advantages over traditional local or datacentre solutions in the areas of performance, scalability, and even security.
The “cloud” in cloud computing can be defined as the set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver aspects of computing as a service. Cloud services can include the delivery of software, infrastructure, and storage over the Internet, either as separate components or a complete platform, based on the requirement.
Cloud computing has four essential characteristics:
1. Elasticity and the ability to scale up and down,
2. Self-service provisioning and automatic de-provisionin
3. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
4. Billing and metering of service usage in a pay-as-you-go model.
This flexibility is essentially what attracts individuals and businesses to consider the cloud.
Cloud computing can completely change the way companies use technology to service customers, partners, and suppliers. Some larger businesses, such as Google and Amazon, already have most of their IT resources in the cloud. They have found that it can eliminate many of the complex constraints from the traditional computing environment, including space, time, power, and cost.
Cloud computing comes in three forms: public clouds, private clouds, and hybrids clouds. Depending on the requirement you’ll need to compare public, private, and hybrid clouds in terms of the different levels of security and management required.
In general terms, a public cloud typically provides services and infrastructure that is not owned by the business itself (such as application, storage capacity and processor power) and delivers them over the Internet via a third party provider. Public clouds offer the greatest level of efficiency in shared resources; however, they are also more vulnerable than private clouds. A public cloud is considered feasible where:
- Your standardized workload for applications is used by many people (such as e-mail)
- You only test and develop application code.
- Your company run SaaS (Software as a Service) applications from a vendor who already has a well-implemented security strategy.
- Your workforce requires scalable capacity (the ability to add or remove computer capacity during peak times).
- You’re only engaged in collaboration projects.
- You’re performing an ad-hoc software development project using a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering cloud.
Public cloud typically raises many concerns about security and reliability. When considering this technology, invest the time in ensuring that security and governance issues are well planned, or the short-term cost savings could turn into a longer-term nightmare.
A private cloud maintains services and infrastructure on a private network; it is essentially an extension of an enterprise’s traditional datacentre that is optimized to provide storage capacity and processor power for a variety of functions
A private cloud offers the greatest level of security and control, but requires the purchase and maintenance of all software and infrastructure, which in many cases reduces anticipated cost savings. A private cloud is considered feasible where: –
- Your data and your applications is your business; control and security are paramount.
- Your business is part of an industry that must conform to strict security and data privacy issues (PCI, SOX, HIPA, etc.).
- Your company is large enough to run and maintain a next generation cloud data centre efficiently and effectively on its own.
To complicate things, the lines between private and public clouds are blurring. For example, some public cloud companies are now offering private versions of their public clouds. Some companies that only offered private cloud technologies are now offering public versions of those same capabilities.
A hybrid cloud typically includes a variety of public and private options with multiple providers. By spreading things out over a hybrid cloud, you keep each aspect at your business in the most efficient environment possible. The downside is that you have to manage multiple and often very different security platforms and most importantly ensure that all aspects of your business can communicate effectively. A couple of scenarios where a hybrid environment may be best suited: –
- Your company wants to use a SaaS application but is concerned about security. Your SaaS vendor can create a private cloud just for your company inside their firewall. They provide you with a virtual private network (VPN) for additional security.
- Your company offers services that are tailored for different vertical markets. You can use a public cloud to interact with the clients but keep their data secured within a private cloud.
The management requirements of cloud computing become much more complex when you need to manage private, public, and traditional data centres all together.