Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is gaining momentum recently. It is they new buzzword and hype, however it is REAL. It is not a new technology, but it is a combination of existing technologies. In fact, Cloud Computing is currently at the peak of Gartner Hype Cycle 2009.

What is Cloud Computing? It is “a collection of computing resources (cpu, memory, storage, etc) delivered as service over internet or private network.” (from Frost & Sullivan).

Gartner Hype Cycle 2009
Gartner Hype Cycle 2009

Cloud computing is made possible with by right timing (green IT), right economic climate (financial crisis) and rapid development of technology that eventually form foundation to the cloud.

Some of key enabler are:

  • Network Bandwidth, Broadband and Smart Devices become more pervasive and affordable.
  • Open Source
  • Commodity Computing Power
  • Utility Computing and Virtualization
  • Web 1.0 -> Web 2.0 -> Web 3.0
  • Data Center Trend

There are 3 types of cloud computing:

  1. Public Cloud – Cloud that is open for public to subscribe and utilize, for example: Google, Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2, etc.
  2. Private Cloud – Cloud that is hosted privately and own by enterprise. It is typically connected to the enterprise internal resources.
  3. Hybrid – Cloud that is combination public and private cloud. Typically separated by VPN or other secure network infrastructure.

Cloud Computing Taxonomy
Cloud Computing Taxonomy

Let’s look at the taxonomy of the cloud. The above figure shows the typical stack of IT in an enterprise. From data center all the way to delivering IT services.

  • IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service. The delivery of computer infrastructure as a service. For example Amazon EC2, Mosso, etc.
  • PaaS – Platform as a Service. The delivery of platform (OS, middleware, database) as a service. For example Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, etc.
  • Saas – Sofware as a Service. The delivery of software/application as a service. For example Salesforce.com, Google App, WebEx, etc.

For those considering or thinking about Cloud Computing. Do consider the benefit and challenges before moving ahead. Like other technology, it is not for everyone and is not a silver bullet.

Challenges:

  • Security (data, network, etc)
  • Governance / Compliance
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  • Risk to brand & revenue
  • Multi-tenant
  • Vendor Viability
  • Cost of transition
  • Portability
  • Lost of Control (performance, availability)

Benefits:

  • Capital Expense reduced.
  • Control Operational Expense
  • Business Agility
  • Re-focus on core business
  • Leverage economies of scale
  • Rapid development
  • Elasticity (capacity planning)
  • Alleviate need for special skill
  • Outsourced maintenance & management

The last few years Cloud Computing seems to be on steroid.

  • In US,  the government has setup apps.gov (15/09/2009). The equivalent of Apple Apps Store but for government to subscribe to platform and software as services.
  • In Singapore, cloud computing is also gaining momentum. In May 2008 (21/05/2008), Salesforce.com announced that it is building its first international data center in Singapore. The data center, which is expected to go live before the end of 2008, will service the company’s rapidly growing international customer base. Following that, in July 2009 (14/07/2009) SingTel announced it is collaborating with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, leading technology companies and software developers to establish Singapore as a regional cloud computing hub.

A brief history of Cloud Computing:

  • 1999 – the arrival of Salesforce.com, which pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications (CRM) via web. The services firm paved the way for both specialist and mainstream software firms to deliver applications as service over the internet.
  • 2002 – Amazon Web Services, which provided a suite of cloud-based services including storage, computation and even human intelligence through the Amazon Mechanical Turk.
  • 2006 – Amazon launched its Elastic Compute cloud (EC2) as a commercial web service that allows small companies and individuals to rent computing power on which to run their own computer applications. (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • 2009 – Google with its Google Apps offer browser-based enterprise applications.

Here are some of the player in Cloud space (not exhaustive list):

  • Amazon EC2/S3
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google (App Engine, Google Apps, etc)
  • Alatum (part of SingTel’s group of businesses)  – Singapore
  • GoGrid
  • 3Terra (AppLogic)
  • StrataScale (IronScale)
  • etc…etc

Hope you find it useful and get you thinking about Cloud Computing 🙂

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