What is cloud computing?


What is cloud computing? Everyone is curious about this cloud computing concept and thinking whether in future do we really store and get everything from the cloud? So back to the history where cloud computing were basically the fifth generation of computing technology after Mainframe, Personal Computer, Client Server Computer and the Web. There has been estimated where the cloud computing will grow $42billon in this infrastructure computing market in the years of 2012. It also refers to the use of networked infrastructure of the software and the capacity in order to provide resources to the users in the on-demand environment. By using cloud computing, the information will be stored in a centralized server and cached in temporarily on clients, so that it will include desktops computers, notebooks, handhelds and other devices. Besides that, the cloud infrastructure can be located in within the company is datacenters or external cloud computing resources. Usually, the cloud will utilize a set of virtualized computers that enables users to start and end all the server or make use of the compute cycles only when needed. On the other hand, the design of cloud computing is scalable, flexible and elastic where its offer Information Technology staff a way to boost up the capacity or adding additional capabilities on demand without investing to new and expensive infrastructure, training new workforce or give more licensing software. As source from IDC October 2008, the percentage of worldwide IT spending cloud on 2012 will be show on the display below.

So what motivate cloud computing until have so impressive impact to the world of information technology? In a single word we can say "ECONOMICS", from end users perspective there will be a simpler, faster and cheaper to use the cloud technology where users can access the application anytime and anywhere. Other than that, from the vendors perspective there will be easy for application vendors to reach new customers, lower cost to deliver their products and supports, and ability to drive down data center operational cost as well. In generally, customers on cloud computing did not have their physical infrastructure, as an alternative to avoid capital expenditure on rent usage from third party provider. Users would have take initiative resources as a service whereby pay only for the resources they use and they need. Vendors such as IBM saying that cloud computing will give benefits to everyone in such of time, money and shorten the production cycle even improving the service level as well. Once implemented, the cloud computing will deliver on its promise of dramatic efficiency. For instance, with cloud computing the IBM workforce team can reduce the amount of time required to produce and build an infrastructure from weeks to hours where this give a great increase on their productivity which enable IBM to shift promising applications to production earlier. Next,

Cloud Spending is growing 6X faster than traditional IT spending.

Moreover, we can see there are a lot of benefits giving from cloud computing where its enables;

  • Less complexity and simplified infrastructure
  • Elastic scalability
  • Deliver IT as a service where it is wherever
  • Rapid provisioning
  • Potentially reduced total cost of operations

By the side of VMware, cloud computing are best to understand that the perspective of the consumer of services provided by such a computing approach. The following is the quality of cloud computing;

  • Radically improved economy though shared infrastructure
  • Price based on consumption ( pay only for what we use )
  • Flexible access ( where company can access for different purpose either public internet or behind the firewall)
  • As a lightweight entry and exit service acquisition model

Other benefits of cloud computing such as;

  • Increase utilization ( sharing computing power between multiple clients)
  • Improve end user productivity ( user can access system regardless of location or device)
  • Increase security ( due to centralize of data and increase security focus resource from cloud computing providers can enhance data security)
  • Gain access to more sophisticated application ( External clouds can offer CRM and other advance tools that are previously use for many business with smaller IT budgets )
  • Save space of department ( by moving applications out to cloud, IT departments can reduce the numbers of application administrators needs for deployment, maintenance and updates )
  • Save energy ( green environment where cloud can reduces the power, cooling and space usage to help enterprise create environment responsible datacenters )

As we talking all the benefits of cloud there were people questioning about the cons of the cloud and here are some challenges that cloud computing are facing;

  • Lack of interoperability ( where there is absence of standard between cloud computing platforms creates unnecessary complexity and results in high cost switching because of different vendors have different application model where consumer did not want to stick on one single provider )
  • Application Compatibility (many existing public compute clouds are not interoperable with existing application where they limit the addressable market to those willing to write new applications from scratch )
  • Inadequate security ( where the design from cloud vendors usually support multi-tenancy compute environments, security can be a key of inhibitor to adopt of cloud computing )

The definition of cloud client is where it consists of the computer hardware and/or computer software which relies on the cloud computing for the application delivery, or which is specifically design for delivered of cloud services and which, in either case, is essentially useless without it. As application deliver where computer hardware and computer software are lies on, it is specify that cloud client are consist into it and also design to deliver the cloud service for example on mobile platform where Linux Based such as Palm Pre using the WebOS Linux Kernel while Android-Linux Kernel, Microsoft based using Window Mobile and the newly iPhone using the Darwin Kernel.

Cloud client consist of hardware client where in hardware client we will have thick client example: Desktops PC. Besides that we will have thin client which is CherryPal and OnLive hardware. Other hardware client such as smart phones example: iPhone, Android Phone, and Window Mobile Phones.

The properties of the cloud client are a client that has to be installed and mostly in lightweight. Next are the client must move the computational work to the cloud servers and often differentiate for users and the users groups which is administrator and end user. Lastly, some client will be able to work offline even on the web-based.

After knowing the hardware client, here will be the software cloud client which consist of Web-Based example Salesforce.com Customer Relationship Management, Google App and Google Docs. Other than that will be client application which is Microsoft Live Mesh application and Amazon EC2 command line tool. Lastly will be Application with cloud extension which is Mathematica and MatLab.

There is some cloud client facing some issues which is for the web based client often plug-in necessary, but the installation will not everywhere to be possible. Besides that, there is no existing standard for the clients to only work with their own cloud service. Lastly, the question of performance which is delayed and the security issues.

Cloud Applications e.g. Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service offering the development platform as a service, database, message queue, application servicer and object data stores. Here is some example of SaaS which is Google App Engine, BigTable, Microsoft SQL Server Data Services, Engine Yard and Salesforce.com's Force.com.

Microsoft have extended the concept of SaasS through the development of Web Services in the early years of 2000s where later on IBM further the concepts in the Autonomic Computing Manifesto which describe advance on automation techniques such as self-monitoring, self-healing, self-configuring, and self-optimizing in the management of complex IT systems. At the beginning, Amazon have played a key role on the growth of cloud computing through modernize their data centers and then later come in Google, IBM and several of universities on 2007 embarked to research project regarding the cloud computing. This research project getting more and more big company interest on this cloud which in years 2008 where company like Intel, HP and Yahoo announced that they have created of the global, open source test bed, multi-data center, called Open Cirrus, designed to encourage research in every aspect of cloud computing and the service of datacenter management.

On the web services for SaaS where there is some characteristic of web such as;

  • Provide interoperability between various software application
  • Standard interface on server
  • Enable to run on disparate platforms

On the other hand, the benefits of SaaS which is allow sharing business logic, data and processes as services. Besides that, it also reduces the software purchasing cost and the form of the technical foundation for software as service business model.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

(This service is typically available over the public Internet and are information-based, for example; Google, Salesforce.com, Nivio, Expedia, Zoho, Learn.com and BigGyan.com which category of cloud computing is the most mature and best known)

Beside that, it also has Security as a Service where MessageLabs or ScanSafe will use on it.

Furthermore, as we compare the business model from traditional package software and SaaS, we can clearly differentiate where traditional packages software are design for customers to install, manage and maintain. But for SaaS, is designed from the outset up for delivery as Internet-based services. The traditional package software have an architect solutions that run by an single company in a dedicated instantiation of the software while SaaS is design for running thousands of different customers in a single code.

Each service has their own challenges where SaaS facing the challenge of switching cost, limited flexibility, security and privacy.

Cloud Platforms e.g. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service which delivers a computing platform also known as solution stack as a service, it is commonly intense cloud infrastructure and supporting the cloud applications. As cloud computing evolved to take in platforms for structure and running custom applications, a model known as "Platform as a Service" (PaaS). There is a concept here to explain PaaS, whereby as we see building and running on-premise applications is very complex, expensive and risky. Each application needs hardware, OS, database, web servers, and other software as well.

Display picture showing the traditional model.

For instance, big company will need to specialize facility to house their data centers and enormous amount of electricity also need to power up the servers as well to keep them cool. In order to overcome this difficulty, here come the PaaS new model:

Where just like Amazon.com, Google, Youtube, iTunes and Ebay, they have create it possible to access new capabilities and new markets through Web browser. This PaaS making everything to be faster, cost-effective for application development and delivery. Besides that, it also provides every infrastructure needed will run application all over the Internet. PaaS also a based on metering system or subscription model where user is pay for what they use only. Therefore, is time where everyone with an internet connection can build a powerful application and easily deploy them to users wherever they are located.

Here is the benefits of PaaS with the radically change on the speed and economics of computing. Firstly, with no worried about the infrastructure where the deployment is simplified so the developers can focus on the development and innovation. Next, lower risk where there will no up-front for investment on hardware and software. In order to start building application, developers only need to have a computer and an internet connection. The application is deployed and can scale from one to tens of thousands of users without any changes to the application. Therefore, the platform is dynamically allocated to the resources right to the application and users on the correct moment. Furthermore, the will be no need software upgrade because PaaS provider handle upgrades, patches and other routine system maintenance. If apply correctly, the application running on it will not be break once the PaaS upgraded. Lastly, there will be direct community where PaaS vendors regularly offer online communities and there is a place for developers to get ideas, seek for advice and share the best practices.

Cloud Infrastructure

Marc Andreessen was the founder of Loudcloud and also the first person who attempt to commercialize the cloud computing with an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. IaaS is a release of a computing infrastructure as a fully outsourced service versus an in-house and resources investment-sourced model. Reasonably than purchasing software license, servers, network equipment and data center, clients will purchase only those resources as fully outsourced service. These services provide IT infrastructure that can be deployed and used via remote access, providing virtual hardware that can be deployed via programmatic methods or from the command line. For example;

Compute (Amazon CloudWatch, RightScale) - physical machines, virtual machine and OS level virtualization.

Network - Amazon VPC

Storage - Amazon EBS

As from Microsoft where cloud computing environment are physical and logical infrastructure where at the same time is hosted application and platform services. In many platform services where in Microsoft the GFS will give the physical and logical cloud infrastructure as well. Within the physical infrastructure they have a data center facility and the component for support the services and network which also support the hardware as well. At the side of Microsoft where the logical infrastructure includes the unstructured data storage, operating system instances, routed networks and running virtual or physical objects. Platform services which include; the compute runtimes example the Internet Services, Microsoft SQL Server and the .NET Framework. Besides that, it also has directory stores and identity such as Window Live ID and Active Directory. Other than that, will be the DNS and other advanced functions consumed via online services. The cloud platform services from Microsoft such as infrastructure services will be virtualized or actual.

The design will be simple and complex products for the range of customers to the online application that running in the Microsoft cloud. The online services and the equivalent security and privacy requirements can be roughly group as offering for:

Enterprise Services - For instance, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, as well as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Office Live Meeting.

Consumer and Small Business Services - Examples consist of Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft Office Live, Live Search and Xbox LIVE.

Third-party hosted services - Example, Web-based applications and solutions that are developed and operated by third parties using the platform services provider throughout the Microsoft cloud computing environment.

On the other hand, GNI has delivered the IaaS by using the special hosting environment model which proven to be the best secure and robust technology platform for their customer. Besides that, the service model from GNi's are mainly focus on the first 4 layers from the OSI model where it is from the operating system layer but however below the applications layers.

From the side of GNI, the benefits of IaaS which give a dynamic scaling where users who use IaaS can increase or decrease some aspects of the surroundings in close to real time, as business needs swing. For paradigm, IaaS provider can have a small quantity of server power during the beginning stages of the application development and then there will be largely capacity during the beta and alpha testing. The need of server infrastructure may continue to decline as well after the commercial launching where it is dependence to the market success during the offering or seasonality. Besides that, the next benefits is usage-based pricing where in order to buy infrastructure that may not use for months or years, customers can purchase the correct amount of infrastructure that they need at any precise time. IaaS users are following the concept of "pay as you go" model that ensure they only will pay for what they are use. Moreover, IaaS also reduce the capital and personnel cost where they remove the amount of in-house infrastructure, operating expenses and capital expenditures. By following the guide of IaaS they will ignore for purchasing IT hardware and focus to the capital resources on their own core competency. Lastly, it also access to superior IT resources where user who using IaaS can have great access to the enterprise grade IT infrastructure perhaps with the engineering resources that might be a cost-prohibitive. In other words, implement the best firewalls or hire a network engineer with the highest level of workers will exceed a lot of corporation financial budget which is better to access by an outsourced model will be further more cost-effective.

Critical Evaluation & Conclusion

Cloud computing is really a new technology in our information technology infrastructure, therefore a lot of costing and valuation we need to pay on to it, at here we can see big company such as Microsoft is in a unique position to provide both guidance and technology solutions that can offer a safer online experience. To help customers avoid financial loss and other consequences of opportunistic and targeted online attacks, and as part of a steadfast commitment to Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft ensures that the people, processes, and technologies the company employs provide more secure and privacy-enhancing experiences, products, and services.

Microsoft provides a trustworthy cloud through focus on three areas:

  • Make use of a risk-based information security program that evaluate and prioritizes security and operational threats to the business
  • Updating and maintaining the details set of security controls that take the edge off risk
  • Operating a compliance framework that guarantee controls are designed correctly and are operating efficiently

On the other hand, we can see how IBM using cloud technology to manage availability, data and overall resiliency. As our business is challenge with meeting the demand for continuous availability while also effectively managing enormous amounts of information, many of the online and often with no offline option our conduction business. When the systems are down, the risk is more than loss of revenue and productivity. So how could we ensure less downtime and provide greater resiliency of your distributed systems, information and applications if they do become unavailable? IBM has come out with the use of dynamic approach of cloud computing that focus on services and applications deliver independently from many underlying infrastructure.

IBM will free your organization from software, hardware and implementation expenses and reduce your IT management cost. IBM has a team called IBM Information Protection Services are "pay-as-you-use" to manage services that are made available in a simplified way and deliver on demand, so you only buy what you need and which in turn, helps stream line expenditures as well. Since there are highly efficiency and security-rich resources with proven capability therefore it can rapidly provision and scale up and down and give your IT management easier. As a result, your enterprise will be able to adapt and nimbly respond to marketplace changes.

Next, we will look at VMware challenge on the cloud computing and how VMware overcome the problems with their solution. Like any new technology, cloud computing poses many challenges that need to be addressed before the full value of the new paradigm can be recognized. Firstly, the compliance where the current requirements for various forms of compliance are at odds with the shared infrastructure and utility model of cloud computing. In many ways, where compliance demands extreme transparency in regards to the IT infrastructure that supports business critical applications, while cloud computing puts a great deal of the IT infrastructure into a black box accessible through well defined interface. Besides that, application compatibility where most of the existing public compute cloud are not interoperable with existing applications and they limit the addressable market to those willing to write a new applications from scratch. The initiative that VMware are giving out is to bring to the industry a new platform for cloud computing that addresses the key inhibitors while embracing companies of all the sizes to enables both private and public compute clouds. The vCloud of VMware initiative brings together the applications, flexible infrastructure, service provider ecosystem and vCloud technology to enable a broad array of new services. Unlike other cloud computing solutions saying by VMware, the vCloud services provide a great deal of flexibility and choice where vCloud enables users to migrate workloads from on-site datacenters to the vCloud and back. It also deploy all the applications in the cloud without rewrite it and power a common set of cloud services that is instantiate by a broad partner ecosystem.


In order to have the same security principles that used to manage the risk of software development and operating environments, we have to create an online IT security program that at the end will continue improve to the security for the cloud computing environment. Besides that, to have a trustworthy computing experience for everyone we must coordinate and have a strategic application of processes, people and technology that allows cloud computing to adapt the rapid changes that happening within the cloud infrastructure and in the marketplace for online service even as maintaining the commitment. Moreover, the rapid changes in the information technology and at the same time form an invisible layer where it also increases the touches from every aspect in our lives. Now, everything is dependent on information technology examples: water supplies, food, energy, healthcare, traffic control, power grid and the financial transactions. In conclusion, an emerging IT delivery model cloud computing that can drastically decrease the IT costs and complexities at the same time as improving workload optimization and service delivery. Cloud computing is extremely scalable, provides a great user experience, and also characterized by new, internet-driven economics which also give cloud computing the fastest growing part of IT, benefits to customers of all the sizes, simpler to acquire and scale up or down and economic environment is accelerating adoption of cloud solutions.


  • http://www.rsa.com
  • http://www.salesforce.com/paas/
  • http://www.gni.com/services/iaas
  • http://www.vmware.com
  • http://www.ibm.com
  • http://www.microsoft.com
  • http://www.saas.com
  • http://wikipedia.com/cloud_computing

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