What is it?
Marketing at its best. The term ‘Cloud’ has been used for years to represent any black box service that you as an individual did not want, or need to know. For example in network diagrams your service provider or the Internet has always been denoted as a cloud.
Today however the term ‘Cloud’ is now synonymous with the delivery of any hosted services over the Internet and has become the de-facto term used for such solutions.
Due to this loose definition, ‘Cloud’ can be rightly or wrongly used to describe solutions such as Webmail, a webserver at a hosting company or an online collaboration service.
So how should we define a compute cloud? Firstly, we need to think about where this cloud came from and what it was meant to achieve.
As with most things in IT the cloud has been born out of business requirement. Originally we had physical servers which were slow to commission and were inefficient on resources, but it’s what we had so that was that.
Then Hypervisor technology came along which allowed systems to be far more time and resource efficient, however there was still a flaw.
That flaw was the human element, processes were still required in order to get a system built and that could still take a substantial amount of time. Then when a machine was commissioned it was built without an expiry date (which slowed down the process even more, especially when resources were low), so before long you end up increasing the size of your environment or preventing users from building more systems as no resources are available.
Another solution was required, this solution would be Cloud Computing.
The fact of whether the cloud is owned outright or located somewhere else remotely becomes irrelevant to the business (well at least until the invoice arrives). What matters is that capable systems are available on demand and can grow as required.
Cloud computing is a self provisioned, on-demand solution that can grow and shrink as desired.
What defines a Cloud?
I can only think of three real requirements for a cloud
- Front end user interface, to allow users to request virtual machines on demand
- Capable infrastructure that can fulfil the request efficiently
- Reporting mechanism to determine usage, accountability and if desired billing
What is the Cloud?
For the end user, simply an interface to deploy and manage a service, and what happens behind that?
…who cares, it’s just a cloud.