What is the Cloud? (Part II)

In Part I of What is the Cloud?, I discussed the key concept of the separation of applications and operating systems from hardware.  I explained how this separation permits elasticity, adaptability and ease of migration in the event of hardware failures in order to maintain a seamless user experience.

I also talked about redundancy, the replication of data; clustering, the multiplying of servers to balance web traffic load; virtualization; and web applications.

There are, however, more terms associated with cloud computing.

Hosted instances

Hosted instances are server images, applications, services and configurations that are already installed on a host.  For example, you can create an instance of your operating system on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) environment and only pay for what you use.  You get space, transfer and RAM and can configure your server instance any way you like. 1

In hosted instances, network speed becomes an issue since your data is in the Cloud and needs to quickly move from there to you.  To deal with this, Amazon, for example, has a main server and nine edge servers across the U.S.  These edge servers (akin to “boosters”) are positioned in such a way as to provide users with the fastest access to their server images (i.e., server configurations of choice or, hosted instances). 2  You may already be using hosted instances without even realizing it.  Google’s Gmail, for example, is in the Cloud. 3

Hosted solutions

“Hosted solutions are applications or services that are hosted by a company that provides you the service.” 4  There are many hosted solutions available on the Web.  Instead of setting everything up by yourself (i.e., purchasing hardware, software, appropriate licenses and storage space), you can pay a small monthly fee to Vendhost, for example, and get a hosted, cloud solution.

Private vs. public cloud

Hosted instances are in the public cloud.  If you’re interested, though, in combining the power of virtualization while retaining in-house control, you certainly can by way of private cloud.  In private cloud, the  hardware resides in your server room, not “somewhere out there” on the Internet. 5

What about security?

When it comes to the Cloud, security is a big question on everyone’s mind.  You may be wondering, How secure is my data if it’s sitting somewhere out there in the Cloud?  The first question you need to ask yourself, though, is How secure is my data right now?  Most small businesses do not invest a large amount of money in order to have perfect firewall protection.  They will, rather, pay an hourly fee to have viruses removed once stricken. 6  Furthermore, any time we interface with the Internet, we risk exposure to infection.  Since it’s in the interest of cloud, hosting providers to provide excellent service, security, speed and data integrity (their very existence depends on it), it’s actually much safer to host your data in the Cloud as opposed to storing it locally.  Furthermore, local, in-house servers are subject to destruction (e.g., from natural disasters) and/or theft.  It makes much more sense (including economic sense) to have the minimal computing equipment in house necessary to interface with your cloud host. 7

(The end of Part II)

800px-Cloud_in_nepal

Cloud in nepali sky

Author:  Krish Dulal

Source:  Own work

References

1 elithecomputerguy.  “Everyman IT, Introduction to Cloud Computing.”  Everyman IT.  Published on December 17, 2010 on Youtube.  Accessed on August 21, 2013.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYzJl0Zrc4M

2 Ibid.

3 Neal, Ryan W. “The Google Cloud Expands: Gmail, Drive and Google+ Now Unified with 15 GB Free Storage.” International Business Times.  Published on May 14, 2013.  Accessed on August 26, 2013.  http://www.ibtimes.com/google-cloud-expands-gmail-drive-google-now-unified-15-gb-free-storage-1257917

4 elithecomputerguy.  “Everyman IT, Introduction to Cloud Computing.”  Everyman IT.  Published on December 17, 2010 on Youtube.  Accessed on August 21, 2013.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYzJl0Zrc4M

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

WHAT IS THE CLOUD? (PART II) Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff

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