|By Deney Dentel||
|December 27, 2012 06:00 AM EST||
Business is continually seeking ways to improve functions. One of the most financially burdensome departments for many companies is IT. To succeed in any industry, a system needs to be in tune with the fast pace of the world it serves. Sustaining such an environment requires dedication to maintaining resources, both in terms of labor as well as equipment. Cutting out needed IT staff for a system that requires around the clock monitoring can halt business continuity should something go awry. Because the infrastructure and staff go hand-in-hand, not investing enough in either category will have adverse effects on business.
To circumvent these situations, companies are now seeking cloud computing models for business applications. Cloud computing is a concept that has a somewhat broad definition. Essentially, business systems for public cloud systems are services that provide the same functionality as network infrastructure to varying degrees. Rather than investing a large sum of money in creating a server environment to retain data and host applications, cloud services have much more appeal as the back-end mechanics for traditional computing environments are eliminated, requiring only a client and an internet connection to use such a service.
Currently, different cloud models exist that cater to different business models. Some industries require specific applications to run on designated platforms to carry out operations, so high levels of customization are needed whereas other businesses utilize only a few applications. Any model can be found in the cloud, which can be broken into three levels of service:
- IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service. This system is likened to a bare system that provides the framework for installing or building a platform that will further support applications. Although uncommon, this form of cloud computing is ideal for companies that use specific platforms for their business systems.
- PaaS - Platform as a Service. A PaaS is a computing environment that already has an interface for installing applications and manipulating data. A PaaS can serve developers by providing a workspace for creating custom applications. Generally, administrators will have control over this environment much like a Windows Server environment where users can share files and use applications.
- SaaS - Software as a Service. This is currently the most popular model for cloud computing. Rather than installing an application on each physical machine, the application is virtualized by the environment it is hosted from. This means that computer itself does not need to have the power to run the application, just an internet connection. SaaS can be utilized in lieu of networking computers for a common task, like data storage and specific application functions.
There are a few key benefits to the cloud that make it a worthy and often times better solution than an in-house system. The expenditures for building a server rack, purchasing software and paying staff are eliminated as cloud services are paid for on a subscription basis. The cloud is a secure way to effectively manage data as major cloud service providers like Microsoft's Azure System, the IBM SmartCloud and Amazon EC2 encrypt data in transit and storage. Such systems actual network infrastructures are maintained by professionals that strictly adhere to data privacy laws supplemented by the fact that access may be monitored and further audited to ensure that information is not compromised. Computers that connect to these systems can reserve processing power for other applications, rather than business critical systems. As mobile devices have become major components to business, many developers are making cloud services available through mobile applications for Android and iPhone devices. Businesses looking to save money and improve processes should consider making the switch to cloud models for the many benefits of the new wave of computing.
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
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