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For those of you new to technology jargons and have been wondering what does Cloud Computing really mean, let’s firstly start by establishing what the word "cloud" means in this context.

Cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. It is quite common these days to draw network diagrams that portray the Internet as a cloud hence the use of the word in this instance.

So why didn’t they just call it "Internet Computing"? Well that’s because cloud computing goes beyond just using the Internet, as we do for, say, websites. The Internet is the carrier but there is a whole set of other technologies involved that are critical in a cloud computing environment.

Getting a commonly agreed definition of cloud computing is still quite difficult. There are many opinions on this, some of them driven by vendors’ own view of the world. Whilst they all generally refer to the same thing we thought we should try and agree on one of these for the purposes of this guide.

The Gartner definition which defines cloud computing as

"A style of computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered ‘as a service’ to external customers using Internet technologies."

The three key words in this definition are scalableservice and Internet. Cloud computing is about how an application is deployed and delivered over the Internet and which is scalable on demand.

Cloud computing is not something that an end-user buys. In fact, end-users should be unaware to, and shouldn’t care, whether an application is delivered using cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a deployment model for applications that is used by organisations in order to reduce infrastructure costs and/or address capacity/scalability concerns. Effectively these organisations are saying that they don’t want to own the assets or to operate the system in

their own Data Centre’s. This shift is due to the economics of using the cloud versus the physical data center, Economics have produced many market transitions throughout history.

Farming, for example, was once practiced by many independent, self-employed farmers who worked the land they owned. If they produced an excess, they sold the excess. Over time, economies of scale enabled by new technologies made the small-farm model less efficient and productive than large farms, which could produce larger quantities of food less expensively. As prices dropped, demand grew and so did large-farm productivity, reducing margins further and making small farms even less feasible. Many small farms consolidated into larger farms, and small farmers went to work for agricultural corporations. Technology was the facilitator, but economics drove the change.

The same pattern can be seen across many other scenarios: the Industrial Revolution, electricity generation, telecom, and so forth. As the service or product becomes commoditized and margins decrease, industry consolidation occurs.

CLOUD COMPUTE MODELS- Public, Private or Hybrid?

Now you have known and understood cloud compute definition, next is as business executives deciding on which model is the key. In a typical cloud computing scenario organisations run their applications from a Data Centre provided by a third-party – the cloud provider. The provider is responsible for providing the infrastructure, servers, storage and networking necessary to ensure the availability and scalability of the applications. This is what most people mean when they refer to cloud computing i.e. a public cloud.

Second choice is a private cloud, a proprietary computing design, owned or leased by a single organisation, which provides hosted services behind a firewall to "customers" within the organisation. There is, however, a larger body of opinion suggesting that private clouds will be the route chosen by many large enterprises and that there will be substantial investment in this area. The main reason for large enterprise is they have multiple sites and they can have a primary and secondary site and with use of technology it will offers Built

-in Disaster Recovery & Back-up Sites and you don’t have to outsource to a third-party to keep your critical data? Also the great things will be, if there is a disaster in site A than all users will be directed to site B in seconds and business continues as usual. So how great can be your Private Cloud environments? You can just imagine..

Third choice is a hybrid cloud with composition of private and public clouds, it is an environment in which an organization provides and manages some resources in-house and has others provided externally. For example, an organization might use a public cloud service, such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for archived data but continue to maintain in-house storage for operational customer data. Ideally, the hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities. This type of hybrid cloud is also referred to as hybrid IT.

While we will certainly see a huge growth in private clouds we need to be careful that this is not just some re-badging of what is there already. Calling the services offered by the internal Data Centre a "private cloud" without changing management processes, organisation/culture and the relationship with business customers is not going to hack it. If your data centre can’t provision new environments, engage with ICT companies on the best solution approach towards cloud but remember on your critical business applications.

Today there are very few companies that have the internal knowledge and the resources to create and effectively manage true cloud computing infrastructures. This will change as the market for cloud services matures and as new products emerge to help with rolling out private cloud-related services within the enterprise data centre.

There will also be the adoption of hybrid cloud environments where organisations will combine the advantages of a public cloud with an internal private cloud. Some applications, or parts of applications, could run in the public cloud while others remain behind the corporate firewall. Regardless of which route you end up following (private, public or hybrid) your expectations of what you should be getting for your money remain the same.

There is a huge amount of hype surrounding cloud computing but despite this more and more C-level executives and IT decision makers agree that it is a real technology option. It has moved from innovative technology to a commercially viable alternative to running applications in-house.

Vendor organisations such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and have invested many millions in setting up cloud computing platforms that they can offer out to 3rd parties. They clearly see a big future for clouds computing as organisation are taking advantages of the cloud environment and again it’s about taking simple steps to cloud either Public, Private or Hybrid and saving $$$!

Of course, no technology comes without a set of advantages and disadvantages so please look forward to the next issue for advantages and disadvantage of cloud computing.

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