Unmasking Cloud Computing

Unmasking Cloud Computing

People in the Information Technology industry know a lot about cloud computing. However, those not part of the industry, primarily the target market, do have a lot of questions regarding the technology. In fact, a lot of them are surely confused about what cloud really is. Cloud computing is not really a new concept. It is just a different approach to making available IT services which tap the ever increasing power of virtualization technologies and servers which can provide huge computing pools and segregate a single server into various virtual machines which be used on demand.

A public cloud is an IT service which can be accessed by anybody provided he is connected through the internet and has a valid credit card. Payment for this infrastructure is very much akin to those pay-as-you-go services. A public cloud is often managed by a portal which is self-serviced, virtualized infrastructures which are multitenant, and very accessible. A private cloud, on the other hand, is very much like a public cloud but is protected by a firewall to restrict access. It is often accessed through a web-based interface with chargeback and self-service features. Its access is often limited to users within the same business or within a partition of the value chain. A public cloud forces an entity to standardize and institute practices which eventually drives efficiency.

People, who are not very knowledgeable about IT terminologies, may interchange cloud computing with software-as-a-service but experts are quick to point out that software-as-a-service is just a subset of cloud computing. A public cloud can be broken down into platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, and software-as-a-service. Platform-as-a-service delivers software-and-computer to clients, which allows developers to create and deploy applications via the web on a hosted infrastructure. Infrastructure-as-a-service, on the other hand, allows users to access a storage capacity and server remotely. Software-as-a-service provides various software applications through the web.

Cloud computing vendors do not offer long-term contracts thus preventing clients to be locked-in to service for a long time. Most suppliers charge on an as-needed, pay-as-you-go basis. Some providers, like infrastructure-as-a-service vendors, charge on a per-hour basis while those providing storage clouds charge on a per-gigabyte usage monthly. Any software application which runs on a computer can be placed in the cloud but there are applications which are not practical to be put in the cloud like system analysis or disk defragmentation tools. Compliance and regulatory concerns also limits entities from placing applications in the cloud, especially those which involve access of sensitive data. Cloud computing is very popularly used by those who need storage and server capacity, application deployment and development, business and personal applications, collaboration, and IT management.

In general, software applications and data can be moved from one cloud to another. However, there are certain applications which are difficult to move from a cloud to another. There are many vendors who offer services to clients if they want to move their applications from one platform to another. However, there’s no standards-based technology yet to seamlessly transfer applications and data from one cloud platform to the other.

By Florence de Borja

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