Cloud Infrastructure

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Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure refers to a virtual infrastructure that is delivered or accessed via a network or the internet. This usually refers to the on-demand services or products being delivered through the model known as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), a basic delivery model of cloud computing. This is a highly automated offering where computing resources complemented with storage and networking services are provided to the user. In essence, users have an IT infrastructure that they can use for themselves without ever having to pay for the construction of a physical infrastructure.

Cloud infrastructure is one of the most basic products delivered by cloud computing services through the IaaS model. Through the service, users can create their own IT infrastructure complete with processing, storage and networking fabric resources that can be configured in any way, just as with a physical data center enterprise infrastructure. In most cases, this provides more flexibility in infrastructure design, as it can be easily set up, replaced or deleted as opposed to a physical one, which requires manual work, especially when network connectivity needs to be modified or reworked.

A cloud infrastructure includes virtual machines and components such as:

  • Virtual servers.
  • Virtual PCs.
  • Virtual network switches/hubs/routers.
  • Virtual memory.
  • Virtual storage clusters.

All of these elements combine to create a full IT infrastructure that works just as well as a physical one, but boasts such benefits as:

  • Low barrier to entry.
  • Low capital requirement.
  • Low total cost of ownership.
  • Flexibility.
  • Scalability.

Cloud infrastructure encompasses the computers, storage, network, related components, and facilities required for cloud computing and IT-as- a-Service.

Why Should I Consider Cloud Infrastructure?

Organizations leverage cloud infrastructure to build hybrid and private clouds that deliver cloud computing services. To fully effectively deliver the benefits of cloud computing, organizations are implementing cloud-enabled infrastructure as part of their data center modernization.

How Does Cloud Infrastructure Work?

Cloud computing infrastructure includes the following components:

  • Servers – physical servers provide “host” machines for multiple virtual machines (VMs) or “guests’
  • Virtualization – virtualization technologies abstract physical elements and location. IT resources – servers, applications, desktops, storage, and networking – are uncoupled from physical devices and presented as logical resources.
  • Storage – SAN, network attached storage (NAS), and unified systems provide storage for primary block and file data, data archiving, backup, and business continuance.
  • Network – switches interconnect physical servers and storage.
  • Management – cloud infrastructure management includes server, network, and storage orchestration, configuration management, performance monitoring, storage resource management, and usage metering.
  • Security – components ensure information security and data integrity, fulfil compliance and confidentiality needs, manage risk, and provide governance.
  • Backup & recovery – virtual servers, NAS, and virtual desktops are backed up automatically.
  • Infrastructure systems – pre-integrated software and hardware, such as complete backup systems with de- duplication and pre-racked platforms containing servers, hypervisor, network, and storage, streamline cloud infrastructure deployment and further reduce complexity.

What Are The Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure?

Infrastructure built for cloud computing provides numerous benefits:

  • Flexible and efficient utilization of infrastructure investments.
  • Faster deployment of physical and virtual resources.
  • Higher application service levels.
  • Less administrative overhead.
  • Lower infrastructure, energy, and facility costs.
  • Increased security.

Networking

In information technology, networking is the construction, design, and use of a network, including the physical (cabling, hub, bridge, switch, router, and so forth), the selection and use of telecommunication protocol and computer software for using and managing the network, and the establishment of operation policies and procedures related to the network.

Computer networking is an engineering discipline that aims to study and analyze the communication process among various computing devices or computer systems that are linked, or networked, together to exchange information and share resources.

Computer networking depends on the theoretical application and practical implementation of fields like computer engineering, computer sciences, information technology and telecommunication.

Computer Networking

A router, network card and protocols are the essential pillars upon which any network is built. Computer networks are the backbone of modern-day communication. Even public switched telephone networks are controlled by computer systems; most telephonic services are also working with IP.

The increasing scope of communication has led to much advancement in the networking field and in its relative industries like hardware, software manufacturing and integration. As a result, most households have access to one or more networks. There are three broad network types:

  • Local Area Network (LAN):Used to serve a small number of people located in a small geographical space. Peer- to-peer or client server networking methods can be employed.
  • Wide Area Network (WAN):Formed to connect a computer with its peripheral resources across a large geographical area.
  • Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)/Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN): Formed without the use of wires or physical media to connect hosts with the server. The data is transferred over radio transceivers.

Cloud Computing Consulting

  • Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”). Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you are billed for water or electricity at home.
  • Still foggy on how cloud computing works and what it is for? This beginner’s guide is designed to demystify basic cloud computing jargon and concepts and quickly bring you up to speed.

Uses of cloud computing

You are probably using cloud computing right now, even if you don’t realise it. If you use an online service to send email, edit documents, watch movies or TV, listen to music, play games or store pictures and other files, it is likely that cloud computing is making it all possible behind the scenes. The first cloud computing services are barely a decade old, but already a variety of organisations—from tiny start-ups to global corporations, government agencies to non-profits—are embracing the technology for all sorts of reasons. Here are a few of the things you can do with the cloud:

  • Create new apps and services.
  • Store, back up and recover data.
  • Host websites and blogs.
  • Stream audio and video.
  • Deliver software on demand.
  • Analyse data for patterns and make predictions.

Top benefits of cloud computing

Cloud computing is a big shift from the traditional way businesses think about IT resources. What is it about cloud computing? Why is cloud computing so popular? Here are 6 common reasons organisations are turning to cloud computing services:

1. Cost

Cloud computing eliminates the capital expense of buying hardware and software and setting up and running on-site datacenters—the racks of servers, the round-the- clock electricity for power and cooling, the IT experts for managing the infrastructure. It adds up fast.

2. Speed

Most cloud computing services are provided self service and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.

3. Global scale

Most cloud computing services are provided self service and on demand, so even vast amounts of computing resources can be provisioned in minutes, typically with just a few mouse clicks, giving businesses a lot of flexibility and taking the pressure off capacity planning.

4. Productivity

On-site datacenters typically require a lot of “racking and stacking”—hardware set up, software patching and other time-consuming IT management chores. Cloud computing removes the need for many of these tasks, so IT teams can spend time on achieving more important business goals.

5. Performance

The biggest cloud computing services run on a worldwide network of secure datacenters, which are regularly upgraded to the latest generation of fast and efficient computing hardware. This offers several benefits over a single corporate datacenter, including reduced network latency for applications and greater economies of scale.

6. Reliability

Cloud computing

Cloud computing makes data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity easier and less expensive, because data can be mirrored at multiple redundant sites on the cloud provider’s network.

Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personal devices to handle applications.

In cloud computing, the word cloud (also phrased as “the cloud”) is used as a metaphor for “the Internet,” so the phrase cloud computing means “a type of Internet-based computing,” where different services — such as servers, storage and applications — are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the Internet. The cloud infrastructure is maintained by the cloud provider, not the individual cloud customer.

In its most simple description, cloud computing is taking services (“cloud services”) and moving them outside an organizations firewall on shared systems. Applications and services are accessed via the Web, instead of your hard drive.

The services are delivered and used over the Internet and are paid for by cloud customer (your business), typically on an as-needed or pay-per- use business model.

Cloud computing is comparable to grid computing, a type of computing where unused processing cycles of all computers in a network are harnesses to solve problems too intensive for any stand-alone machine.

How it Works

Cloud computing applies traditional supercomputing, or high-performance computing power, normally used by military and research facilities, to perform tens of trillions of computations per second. In consumer-oriented applications such as financial portfolios, to deliver personalized information, to provide data storage or to power large, immersive online computer games.

To do this, cloud computing uses networks of large groups of servers typically running low-cost consumer PC technology with specialized connections to spread data-processing chores across them. This shared IT infrastructure contains large pools of systems that are linked together. Often, virtualization techniques are used to maximize the power of cloud computing.

Cloud Computing Standards

The standards for connecting the computer systems and the software needed to make cloud computing work are not fully defined at present time, leaving many companies to define their own cloud computing technologies. Organizations choose cloud providers that satisfy their needs. Cloud computing systems offered by companies, like IBM’s “Blue Cloud” technologies, for example, are based on open standards and open source software which link together computers that are used to to deliver Web 2.0 capabilities like mash-ups or mobile commerce.

Organizations such as the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Open Cloud Consortium (OCC) and Open Grid Forum (OGF) are a few of the many organizations that have suggested some type of standard or suggested guidelines.

Cloud Computing Terms to Know In the Data Center and for Small Business

Cloud computing has obtained mass appeal in corporate data centers as it enables the data center to operate like the Internet through the process of enabling computing resources to be accessed and shared as virtual resources in a secure and scalable manner.

For a small and medium size business (SMB), the benefits of cloud computing is currently driving adoption. In the SMB sector there is often a lack of time and financial resources to purchase, deploy and maintain an infrastructure (e.g. the software, server and storage).

In cloud computing, small businesses can access these resources and expand or shrink services as business needs change. The common pay-as- you-go subscription model is designed to let SMBs easily add or remove services and you typically will only pay for what you do use.

Common Cloud Service Models

Cloud services are typically deployed based on the end-user (business) requirements. The primary services include the following:

Software as a Service (SaaS)

  • A software delivery method that provides access to software and its functions remotely as a Web-based service. Software as a Service allows organizations to access business functionality at a cost typically less than paying for licensed applications since SaaS pricing is based on a monthly fee.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

  • A computing platform being delivered as a service. Here the platform is outsourced in place of a company or data center purchasing and managing their own hardware and software layers.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

  • A computer infrastructure, such as virtualization, being delivered as a service. IaaS is popular in the data center where software and servers are purchased as a fully outsourced service and usually billed on usage and how much of the resource is used

Infrastructure as a service

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an instant computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the Internet. Quickly scale up and down with demand and pay only for what you use. IaaS helps you avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing your own physical servers and other datacenter infrastructure. Each resource is offered as a separate service component and you only need to rent a particular one for as long as you need it. The cloud computing service provider manages the infrastructure, while you purchase, install, configure and manage your own software—operating systems, middleware and applications.

Common IaaS business scenarios

Typical things businesses do with IaaS include:

Test and development.

Teams can quickly set up and dismantle test and development environments, bringing new applications to market faster. IaaS makes it quick and economical to scale up dev-test environments up and down.

Website hosting.

Running websites using IaaS can be less expensive than traditional web hosting.

High-performance computing.

High-performance computing (HPC) on supercomputers, computer grids or computer clusters helps solve complex problems involving millions of variables or calculations. Examples include earthquake and protein folding simulations, climate and weather predictions, financial modeling and evaluating product designs.

Web apps.

IaaS provides all the infrastructure to support web apps, including storage, web and application servers and networking resources. Organisations can quickly deploy web apps on IaaS and easily scale infrastructure up and down when demand for the apps is unpredictable.

Storage, backup and recovery.

Organisations avoid the capital outlay for storage and complexity of storage management, which typically requires a skilled staff to manage data and meet legal and compliance requirements. IaaS is useful for handling unpredictable demand and steadily growing storage needs. It can also simplify planning and management of backup and recovery systems.

High-performance computing.

High-performance computing (HPC) on supercomputers, computer grids or computer clusters helps solve complex problems involving millions of variables or calculations. Examples include earthquake and protein folding simulations, climate and weather predictions, financial modeling and evaluating product designs.

Big data analysis.

Big data is a popular term for massive data sets that contain potentially valuable patterns, trends and associations. Mining data sets to locate or tease out these hidden patterns requires a huge amount of processing power, which IaaS economically provides.

Advantages of IaaS

Eliminates capital expense and reduces ongoing cost.

IaaS sidesteps the upfront expense of setting up and managing an on-site datacenter, making it an economical option for start-ups and businesses testing new ideas.

Improves business continuity and disaster recovery.

Achieving high availability, business continuity and disaster recovery is expensive, since it requires a significant amount of technology and staff. But with the right service level agreement (SLA) in place, IaaS can reduce this cost and access applications and data as usual during a disaster or outage.

Innovate rapidly.

As soon as you have decided to launch a new product or initiative, the necessary computing infrastructure can be ready in minutes or hours, rather than the days or weeks—and sometimes months—it could take to set up internally.

Respond quicker to shifting business conditions.

IaaS enables you to quickly scale up resources to accommodate spikes in demand for your application— during the holidays, for example—then scale resources back down again when activity decreases to save money.

Focus on your core business.

IaaS frees up your team to focus on your organisation’s core business rather than on IT infrastructure.

Increase stability, reliability and supportability.

With IaaS there is no need to maintain and upgrade software and hardware or troubleshoot equipment problems. With the appropriate agreement in place, the service provider assures that your infrastructure is reliable and meets SLAs.

Better security.

With the appropriate service agreement, a cloud service provider can provide security for your applications and data that may be better than what you can attain in-house.

Gets new apps to users faster.

Because you don’t need to first set up the infrastructure before you can develop and deliver apps, you can get them to users faster with IaaS.

Platform as a service

Platform as a service (PaaS) is a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud, with resources that enable you to deliver everything from simple cloud-based apps to sophisticated, cloud-enabled enterprise applications. You purchase the resources you need from a cloud service provider on a pay-as- you-go basis and access them over a secure Internet connection.

Like IaaS, PaaS includes infrastructure—servers, storage and networking—but also middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems and more. PaaS is designed to support the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing and updating.

PaaS allows you to avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing software licenses, the underlying application infrastructure and middleware or the development tools and other resources. You manage the applications and services you develop and the cloud service provider typically manages everything else.

Common PaaS scenarios

Organisations typically use PaaS for these scenarios:

Development framework.

PaaS provides a framework that developers can build upon to develop or customise cloud- based applications. Similar to the way you create an Excel macro, PaaS lets developers create applications using built-in software components. Cloud features such as scalability, high-availability and multi-tenant capability are included, reducing the amount of coding that developers must do.

Analytics or business intelligence.

Tools provided as a service with PaaS allow organisations to analyse and mine their data, finding insights and patterns and predicting outcomes to improve forecasting, product design decisions, investment returns and other business decisions.

Additional services.

PaaS providers may offer other services that enhance applications, such as workflow, directory, security and scheduling.

Advantages of PaaS

By delivering infrastructure as a service, PaaS offers the same advantages as IaaS. But its additional features—middleware, development tools and other business tools—give you more advantages:

Cut coding time.

PaaS development tools can cut the time it takes to code new apps with pre-coded application components built into the platform, such as workflow, directory services, security features, search and so on.

Add development capabilities without adding staff.

Platform as a Service components can give your development team new capabilities without your needing to add staff having the required skills.

Develop for multiple platforms—including mobile—more easily.

Some service providers give you development options for multiple platforms, such as computers, mobile devices and browsers making cross-platform apps quicker and easier to develop.

Use sophisticated tools affordably.

A pay-as- you-go model makes it possible for individuals or organisations to use sophisticated development software and business intelligence and analytics tools that they could not afford to purchase outright.

Support geographically distributed development teams.

Because the development environment is accessed over the Internet, development teams can work together on projects even when team members are in remote locations.

Efficiently manage the application lifecycle.

PaaS provides all of the capabilities that you need to support the complete web application lifecycle: building, testing, deploying, managing and updating within the same integrated environment.

Software as a service

Common SaaS scenarios

If you have used a web-based email service such as Outlook, Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail, then you have already used a form of SaaS. With these services, you log into your account over the Internet, often from a web browser. The email software is located on the service provider’s network and your messages are stored there as well. You can access your email and stored messages from a web browser on any computer or Internet-connected device.

The previous examples are free services for personal use. For organisational use, you can rent productivity apps, such as email, collaboration and calendaring; and sophisticated business applications such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and document management. You pay for the use of these apps by subscription or according to the level of use.

Advantages of SaaS

Gain access to sophisticated applications.

To provide SaaS apps to users, you don’t need to purchase, install, update or maintain any hardware, middleware or software. SaaS makes even sophisticated enterprise applications, such as ERP and CRM, affordable for organisations that lack the resources to buy, deploy and manage the required infrastructure and software themselves.

Pay only for what you use.

You also save money because the SaaS service automatically scales up and down according to the level of usage.

Use free client software.

Users can run most SaaS apps directly from their web browser without needing to download and install any software, although some apps require plugins. This means that you don’t need to purchase and install special software for your users.

Mobilise your workforce easily.

easily. SaaS makes it easy to “mobilise” your workforce because users can access SaaS apps and data from any Internet-connected computer or mobile device. You don’t need to worry about developing apps to run on different types of computers and devices because the service provider has already done so. In addition, you don’t need to bring special expertise onboard to manage the security issues inherent in mobile computing. A carefully chosen service provider will ensure the security of your data, regardless of the type of device consuming it.

Access app data from anywhere.

With data stored in the cloud, users can access their information from any Internet- connected computer or mobile device. And when app data is stored in the cloud, no data is lost if a user’s computer or device fails.

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