Saturday, May 01, 2010

Cloud Computing Explained

We are heading toward Cloud Computing. About one year ago I published a posting about this trend. But what is Cloud Computing at all? Does it replace the SOA and EDA hypes? Answer on this last question: No! Cloud software takes full advantage of the cloud paradigm by being service oriented with a focus on statelessness, low coupling, modularity, and semantic interoperability.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology - NIST - has defined Cloud Computing. This definition perfectly matches my own vision and awareness. I think it may be worthfull to share this vision. In this posting I'll add two of my own pictures to support the understanding.

First of all, to understand Cloud Computing it is very important to understand the viewpoint of IT-services from a layered perspective. The picture below is a simplified version of the model I've always at hand in my daily practice and which I published before on my blog.

IT-services stack
[click to enlarge]

IT-delivery offerings in the market tend to concentrate on each of these layers. Each layer provides services to the next higher layer in the stack adding abstraction and value to its lower level layer. This is a move-away from the stove pipes where every application relies on dedicated solutions throughout the stack.

(Honesty demands to mention appliances, which are hardware stove pipe boxes for the sake of - very - high performance requirements. The consumer of the services should however be unaware of these lower level implementation strategies.)

When you understand this layered view, you will be able to understand Cloud Computing. NIST defines Cloud Computing as follows:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.

Essential Characteristics
On-demand self-service
A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service’s provider.

Broad network access
Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, and PDAs).

Resource pooling
The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state, or datacenter). Examples of resources include storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth, and virtual machines.

Rapid elasticity
Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.

Measured Service
Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.

Service Models
Software as a Service (SaaS)
The capability provided to the consumer is to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email). The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings.

Example: Google Gmail

Platform as a Service (PaaS)
The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly application hosting environment configurations.

Example: IBM Cloud Burst

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls).

Example: Amazon EC2

My visualization
[Click to enlarge]
Deployment Models
Private cloud
The cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization. It may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

Community cloud
The cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations). It may be managed by the organizations or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

Public cloud
The cloud infrastructure is made available to the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an organization selling cloud services.

Hybrid cloud
The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load-balancing between clouds).

Thank you, Peter Mell and Tim Grance! In return feel free to reuse my pictures...


MyOpenDraft said...

Nice Post ;) Thanks

Steve said...

Thanks for a concise overview!

david said...

Hey Thanks a lot for sharing such a nice and informative article.I had gone through the article, Really a very nice and detailed review on Cloud computing which is very helpful.

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Web design NJ said...

Nice post :) thank you for sharing.

Steve said...

Thanks for the explanation!
I also found a great video that really cimplifies cloud computing.
Check it out: