What is Cloud?

November 24, 2011 4:35 pm Announcements, Canada, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Center, Cloud Hosting, Colocation, Virtual, Virtualization

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What is a ‘Cloud’?

A ‘cloud’ computer provides IT resources, be it for workstations or servers, over the Internet, to many users or businesses, seamlessly. A single ‘system’ divides itself into as many ‘virtual machines’ as is necessary. Each virtual machine behaves exactly like any computer would, but the actual hardware is completely dealt with by the Cloud. Also, you can add more resources to a virtual machine at any time, via a control panel, allowing you to add CPU’s, more memory, or more disk space as needed.

End benefits of using a Cloud.

Cloud computing is a system whereby users each have their own computer known as a ‘virtual machine’. They can install all the programs necessary, but run off the much faster ‘cloud’ system. They can connect to their VM from almost anything with an Internet connection. The result — you can use all your programs, faster, cheaper, from anywhere, and without a need to worry about hardware.

What goes wrong in a Cloud?

Cloud users no longer have to worry about the details of hardware. A cloud system has built-in redundancy for all the resources that it needs. Thus, when a hardware problem arises, the users are unaware, as the cloud moves their resources to other hardware seamlessly. The worst effect of a problem, is that a user may notice slower than normal reaction times, as it is busy moving their virtual machine, or data, to a new device that is not experiencing trouble.

The Cloud uses Virtualization

The hardware for a ‘Cloud’ system is integrated under a system that allows the resources to be partitioned to meet the total demands. It can consist of several (always at least two, for redundancy) very powerful computers, or a larger number of more typical computers. Just about all existing hardware can be included in such a system, and several new generation hardware systems are specifically engineered to be useable as ‘Cloud’ platforms.

The ‘Cloud’ is scalable

If you find your virtual computer or applications need more processor, more memory, or more disk space, all you have to do is use a web browser to log into your administrative ‘Cloud’ account, and request more! You pay for only what you use, thus the typical time that is wasted by typical computers, where their processors have nothing to do, is no longer a cost the end user is forced to bear. Since you typically have the resources of many computers at your disposal, and your own computer can be configured for it’s own needs, the ‘virtual machine’ has become the most scalable instance of computing, in mankind’s history.

Why does Cloud computing reduce hardware costs?

(a) Use only what you need.
You no longer have to regularly upgrade hardware. The 95% of a typical computer’s ‘usage’ which is spent idly doing nothing, you no longer pay for — it is working on someone’s needs! To see an example, for any Windows based system, press Ctrl-Alt-Del, open the Task Manager, then look at the ‘Processes’ tab. The ‘System Idle’ process represents how much your processor is waiting for you to give it something to do.

(b) Hardware changes are less frequent, and promote better efficiency.
A typical computer is ‘current’ for just a few years, before technology and required resources forces you to ‘upgrade’ or replace it altogether. With Cloud computing, this is largely a thing of the past, since a virtual machine is so scalable. Those managing the Cloud will be able to see overall use of resources, and have ample time to integrate new hardware as it becomes needed. Hardware that fails, no longer greatly affects the users, and allows management to more accurately estimate the ‘effective lifespan’ of hardware models, permitting better purchasing decisions to be made.

Why does Cloud computing save business a great deal of money?

Typical office workers each have a workstation with the same applications installed. An office of 1000 workers are typically running 1000 copies of a Windows operating system, 1000 copies of other common applications, such as MS Office. Within a cloud system, each operating system or application needs to be loaded just once, greatly reducing disk access, which in turn increases hard drive life expectancy, and leaving far more memory available for the ‘data’ requirements, which holds the variables that change from one virtual machine to another.

Why does Management end up feeling more comfortable with a Cloud environment?

With typical computer use to date, managers needed to rely heavily on their IT professionals to guide them into making wise computer resource purchasing decisions. Due to the many emerging technologies, they felt pressured to stay on top of the industry, trying to learn about each emerging technology, and tasking their IT team to determine whether it’s use could be effectively integrated into their resources, relying on them to note the advantages and disadvantages.

Using an external cloud provider greatly removes the need for in-house IT professionals, as ‘the cloud’ is called upon for the vast majority of computing resources, and the end user requires only a cheap terminal/device that can access the cloud resources. With better management tools that can look at their hardware as a whole, and present statistics more simply according to basic type (processor, memory, disk space), assessments and efficiencies become easier to analyze and achieve.

On top of this, their in-house IT needs end up amounting only to providing a sufficient number of devices to have their staff connect to the cloud.

Employment needs also become far more flexible, as the cloud can just as easily be accessed from a home as an office.

The end result is a more flexible office, with less computer-related stress, greatly reduced IT costs, and managers with little IT experience are able to make better IT decisions from the data available to them.

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