Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Cloud Computing In a Nutshell

We all heard the term 'Cloud Computing' and we've all probably said Cloud this or Cloud that at some point in time, but what is the 'Cloud' and how can it help me?
Don't you just hate it when there is a new trend and everybody is talking about it like they invented it? They'll usually use complicated verbiage to try and confuse you as much as possible into buying or overpaying for something you might not need at all or at least not at the volume they are trying to sell to you. Well, I can promise you that won't happen here.
So what is Cloud Computing? Cloud Computing is a way of using a collection of servers and storage to do what you would normally need to do but without the need to house and maintain the server(s) yourself. With the use of a 'Cloud', you can now run an entire business without ever maintaining a server or storage unit yourself or with the aid of an on-site IT professional. Some might ask, "What's so good about that?" Well, it increases efficiency, improves cash flow and a lot of other benefits I will review shortly.
Before I dive into the benefits, we need to start with knowing what a 'Cloud' is made of? Now this might get a bit boring, so let's just walk through the basics... and quickly.
First you need a platform. Since Cloud computing is basically a virtualization evolution, it needs to run on a virtualization platform. I won't dive into this because then it will just become a Wikipedia page. In short, you take multiple machines that are connected together and virtually make them into 1 machine using an application/software.
Once we chose the platform, we need to run it on some hardware. Dell, HP and IBM are currently the giants within the Enterprise IT industry that most 'Cloud Computing' uses for hardware. Due to the level at which their hardware is used, you can expect the same from their proprietary software. Most IT professionals who maintain these virtual environments will probably be most familiar with those brands since it's the most common.
The last segment is the network configuration. A Single cloud node will act like a management platform that can manage all the different zones in multiple geographic areas, from a single point.
And that is basically all you need to build a cloud. Now that we've analyzed the ingredients (only the basics so far but if you're interested in the individual components that make up the cloud let me know and I'll go over them in more detail J) let's touch on some of the benefits.
So what are some of the benefits of Cloud computing?
1. Security, mainly disaster recovery services - When you start using cloud computing, you can kiss your entire disaster recovery plan goodbye. If you have a cold site it's one thing but if you have a hot site, man you have probably spent a LOT of money! And I mean A LOT. Cloud computing will take care of most of the issues that interrupt a website and will do it faster as well. An industry average of 2.1 hours. Compared to 8 hours?! Wow.
2. Software Updates - Have you ever measured how long it takes you, as a server administrator, to run updates on all your servers? Well, days and even weeks, in accumulate. Cloud computing suppliers do the server maintenance, freeing this time so you can do something more productive for your business.
3. Flexibility - Are you running out of space? You need more bandwidth? Pick up the phone and start dialing. That's all that it will take for you to get more bandwidth or storage. No need to redesign your network with a new server purchase, deployment, and maintenance plan. Not anymore.
4. Server access - As long as you have one, you can access your data from anywhere!
5. Data Security - You lost your laptop? Someone stole your rack server? Your workstation caught fire? Bummer! But what if there was this crazy option that despite all this bad luck, your data won't be lost and is still accessible via any device that has an internet connection? See #4, now there is.
There are many more benefits, but those are the ones that are the most appealing, in my opinion.
I do believe that Cloud computing is here for the better and not so long from now, everything will be online via cloud. But it's not going to happen tomorrow and not this year. This is still a long and patient process. In the meantime there are suppliers currently providing all the equipment to create your own cloud, consultancy on how to run and maintain it, including deployment, support, mission critical on-site and backups.
Thank you for reading this long article. I hope this has helped you understand a little bit more about what is that trend called 'Cloud Computing', hopefully before you started spending.

By Yuri Aberfeld

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