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Cloud Computing – Basic Concepts

BASIC DEFINITION

Cloud computing which is usually referred to as simply “the cloud,” is the on-demand delivery of compute power, database storage, applications, and other IT resources through a cloud services platform via the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.

Key word here is “on-demand”. You demand that you need some resource (CPU/Storage/Database/Platform/Apps etc) and you get it instantly by as simple as pressing couple of keys in your web hosted Cloud Panel.

Traditionally, you used to first order these resources through defined channels before started using them. Example, in your traditional setup, as a DBA if you required another 1 TB of disk for your database you may have to go to your UNIX Admins which in turn used to go to storage admins and Storage admins used to carve out the right size disk or order new capacity from the storage company. UNIX Admins then partition and extend the LV and then at last you will get the disk to increase your database size. This is very simple example of traditional system but explains that it takes resource. time and effort to get such repetitive things done. Cloud computing helps in overcoming such limitations.

Cloud computing provides a simple way to access servers, storage, databases and a broad set of application services over the Internet. A Cloud services platform such as Amazon Web Services or Oracle Cloud in most cases owns and maintains the network-connected hardware required for these application services, while you provision and use what you need via a web application.

 

SCALAIBILITY AND ELASTICITY

You will hear these two terms again and again whenever somebody will discuss Cloud with you. Scalability is a characteristics of cloud computing through which increasing workload can be handled by increasing in proportion the amount of resource capacity.  Whereas, elasticity, is being one of the characteristics that  highlights the concept of commissioning and decommissioning of a large amount of resource capacity.

With Cloud resources, you can scale up or down quickly and easily to meet demand

 

LAYERS OF CLOUD COMPUTING

The different layers of cloud computing are:

a) Software as a Service (SaaS)

It provides users direct access to the cloud application without installing anything on the system. With SaaS, you no longer have to purchase, install, update and maintain the software.

The benefits of SaaS:

  • QUICK: Just sign up and start using cutting edge business apps
  • USE ANYWHERE: Apps and data are accessible from any internet connected machine
  • NO LOCAL FAILURES: Even if your machine stops working or go bad data will not be lost as data is in the cloud
  • SCALABILITY: Add as many user and add as much data. The service is able to dynamically scale to users requirments

 

b) Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a service provides companies with computing resources including servers, networking, storage, and data center space on a pay-per-use basis.

It provides the infrastructure in terms of hardware like memory, processor speed etc. Here the infrastructure is the servers, storage and other hardware systems. Traditional way of stting up hardware infrstructre takes days or mo th beofre your team can start using those resources. With cloud you team can start working as soon as in a day. laaS  deals with the complexities of deploying and maintaining of the services provided by this layer.

The benefits of IaaS:

  • COMPARATIVELY CHEAP: No need to invest in your own hardware
  • SCALABILITY: Infrastructure scales on demand to support dynamic workloads
  • ON- DEMAND: You need, you demand, you get it. Very flexible and innovative services available on demand

 

 

c)  Platform as a service (PaaS)

It provides cloud application platform for the users/developers/DBAs etc

Platform as a service or PAAS is an important layer in cloud computing.  It provides application platform for providers.  It is responsible for providing complete virtualization of the infrastructure layer and makes it work like a single server.

Platform as a service provides a cloud-based environment with everything required to support the complete life cycle of building and delivering web-based (cloud) applications—without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware, software, provisioning, and hosting.

The benefits of PaaS

  • SHRINK YOUR PROJECT CYCLE: Develop your applications and get it to market faster
  • FAST DEPLOYMENT: Deploy new web applications to the cloud in minutes

 

TYPES OF CLOUD

A) PUBLIC CLOUD

Public clouds are owned and operated by companies that offer rapid access over a public network to affordable computing resources. With public cloud services, users don’t need to purchase hardware, software, or supporting infrastructure, which is owned and managed by providers.

Key aspects of public cloud

  • Innovative SaaS business apps for applications ranging from customer resource management (CRM) to transaction management and data analytics
  • Flexible, scalable IaaS for storage and compute services on a moment’s notice
  • Powerful PaaS for cloud-based application development and deployment environments

 

B) PRIVATE CLOUD

A private cloud is infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third party, and hosted either internally or externally. Private clouds can take advantage of cloud’s technologies, while providing more control of resources and steering clear of multi-tenancy.

Key aspects of private cloud

  • A self-service interface controls services, allowing IT staff to quickly provision, allocate, and deliver on-demand IT resources
  • Highly automated management of resource pools for everything from compute capability to storage, analytics, and middleware
  • Sophisticated security and governance designed for a company’s specific requirements

 

C) HYBRID CLOUD

A hybrid cloud uses a private cloud foundation combined with the strategic integration and use of public cloud services. The reality is a private cloud can’t exist in isolation from the rest of a company’s IT resources and the public cloud. Most companies with private clouds will evolve to manage workloads across data centers, private clouds, and public clouds—thereby creating hybrid clouds.

Key aspects of hybrid cloud

  • Allows companies to keep the critical applications and sensitive data in a traditional data center environment or private cloud
  • Enables taking advantage of public cloud resources like SaaS, for the latest applications, and IaaS, for elastic virtual resources
  • Facilitates portability of data, apps and services and more choices for deployment models

 

LIMITATIONS OF THE CLOUD

Below are some of the limitations that are discussed frequently in relation to Cloud technologies.

a) Security Concerns 

Cloud-based technology solutions require companies to loosen their control of critical data which makes IT Security managers little skeptical. Cloud-based vendors are well aware of this concern and have invested millions of dollars in building state-of-the-art security capabilities and information management processes.

IT security managers must conduct due diligence to ensure that any cloud based solution meets their business continuity requirements , is hack-proof and have enough redundancy at all layers.

 

b)  Functionality and Availability

A lot of applications can be now accesses through Cloud. but  so far, vendors of cloud-based ERP systems have focused on delivering core ERP functionality such as general accounting, purchasing, and accounts receivable and payable. They continue to invest in developing new functions like statistical forecasting, constraint-based planning, social media, and production management. ERP is one big piece of software which is used by almost all big and mid sized companies.

 

c) Perceived data risks 

This point echos what the first point above discussed but when it comes to trusting a third-party provider with sensitive company information, such as financial data or customer orders, where it may be mingled with that of other companies the IT Admins still consider it as risk irrespctive of tall claims made by Cloud companies.

 

d) Organizational resistance/Re-training of staff 

IT organizations at most companies have already put in place the teams and developed the skills needed to operate their application environment, including data-center hosting, support, maintenance, and ongoing application development. Like any outsourcing decision, moving all of their applications to the cloud can create significant organizational disruptions

Irrespective of limitations, the benefits of cloud computing outnumber the limitations and Cloud computing will be the future for major businesses in coming years.

Oracle Cloud platform provides a large portfolio of cloud services across all the three layers of cloud — infrastructure, platform, and software — with an enterprise-grade, industry-standard, product stack. In some of the coming posts we will discuss more on Oracle Cloud.

 

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Brijesh Gogia

I’m an experienced Oracle Applications DBA with more than a decade of full-time DBA experience. I have gained a wide knowledge of the Oracle software stack and have worked on several big projects for multi-national companies. I enjoy working with the leading-edge technology and have passion for database performance and stability. Thankfully my work allows me time for researching new technologies (and to write about them).
  
You can connect with me on LinkedIn.

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