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In part 1 of this series I discussed the base technologies (virtualisation, shared resources, automation and abstracted services) that are at the base of cloud computing. This part deals with how those base technologies have allowed us to envision and adopt new computing models that are central to the cloud computing movement.
Part 2 : Computing Models
From the perspective of the consumer, as long as they satisfy the requirements, any external supplier can provide the demanded computing as the cost and effort of building on premise on demand computing facilities may be overkill for many businesses. As a result, large providers of computing resources are stepping in to provide cloud computing to anybody that wants it and is willing to pay. This does not disqualify the value proposition of the private cloud, but it is the public cloud providers, such as Amazon, that have been pushing the change in computing models.
If consumers require computing resources on demand, it is logical to expect that they only want to pay for those resources when they need them and while they are in use. The pricing of cloud computing is still in its infancy and sometimes quite complicated, but the idea is that consumers pay as they would for any utility like electricity, rather than pay for a whole lot of physical assets that they may or may not use. This has the potential to radically change how businesses serve customers and process data as planning is done and decisions are made based, not on upfront costs, but on dynamic usage cycles and different types and rates of billing.
Providers of these on-demand resources would, for technical and practical reasons, rather not provide highly specialised resources. It is very difficult to provide an expensive and depreciating high-end server with loads of memory and fast IO or to provide a machine with a sophisticated graphics processor. Without the provision of specialised components, regardless of the underlying infrastructure (which may or may not be assembled out of high-end components) the resources provided are straightforward an anaemic. This changes application architectures because dedicated and powerful single node servers are not available and architects cannot make assumptions about the availability and reliability of individual nodes.
There is a difference between a consumer that requires an email service and one that requires a database service so providers of computing resources need to cater to different markets. Because of the underlying approach and technology, providers generally have one particular service abstraction and the different cloud specializations, IaaS, SaaS, PaaS and others have emerged and used to identify the class of cloud computing offering.
If we consider that cloud computing is simply a logical progression of IT technologies, what is it that grabbed the attention of the market and caused vendors to invest so much money in new products and huge datacentres? The reason is that cloud computing opens up new ways of conducting and operating a business and using technology to tackle new markets.
Before looking at the types of businesses that are intrigued by cloud computing, we need to understand the value that businesses see in the cloud. While technologists may find it surprising, not everybody wants to play with cloud computing just because it is shiny and new. It seems that businesses want value in the form of cost savings, reduced risk, increased turnover, and others in order to move systems and infrastructure onto the cloud.
Continue to part 3 : ‘Business Value’