Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, AppNeta Blog, Yeshim Deniz, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

Understanding "Clouded" Terms of Cloud Computing

The definitions vary from source to source, author to author

Michael Sheehan's "GoGrid" Blog

There seems to be a lot of debate around different types of Computing Terms being used to describe server and hosting solutions. In fact, in the past, the blogosphere seemed to throw around terms like Grid, Cloud, Utility, Distributed and Cluster computing almost interchangeably. But, as of this revision, one term is rising to the top: Cloud Computing. (See recent trend analysis here.)

The definitions vary from source to source, author to author. While I cannot (and will not) attempt to articulate the end-all definition, I can write about how I view these terms and how they apply to the products that we offer, namely GoGrid. But before I dive into MY interpretation, providing what others view on these subjects may shed some light on our framework.

Terms as defined by Wikipedia

wikipedia_logo_sm Many people view Wikipedia as an authoritative source of information but that is always subject to debate. Wikipedia defines some of these terms as follows (not the end-all definitions though) and I have taken some liberties of removing non-relevant information for argument’s sake:

  • Grid Computing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_computing
    • Multiple independent computing clusters which act like a “grid” because they are composed of resource nodes not located within a single administrative domain. (formal)
    • Offering online computation or storage as a metered commercial service, known as utility computing, computing on demand, or cloud computing.
    • The creation of a “virtual supercomputer” by using spare computing resources within an organization.
  • Cloud Computing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing
    • Cloud computing is a computing paradigm shift where computing is moved away from personal computers or an individual application server to a “cloud” of computers. Users of the cloud only need to be concerned with the computing service being asked for, as the underlying details of how it is achieved are hidden. This method of distributed computing is done through pooling all computer resources together and being managed by software rather than a human.
    • The services being requested of a cloud are not limited to using web applications, but can also be IT management tasks such as requesting of systems, a software stack or a specific web appliance.
  • Utility Computing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_computing :
    • Conventional Internet hosting services have the capability to quickly arrange for the rental of individual servers, for example to provision a bank of web servers to accommodate a sudden surge in traffic to a web site.
    • “Utility computing” usually envisions some form of virtualization so that the amount of storage or computing power available is considerably larger than that of a single time-sharing computer. Multiple servers are used on the “back end” to make this possible. These might be a dedicated computer cluster specifically built for the purpose of being rented out, or even an under-utilized supercomputer. The technique of running a single calculation on multiple computers is known as distributed computing.
  • Distributed Computing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_computing
    • A method of computer processing in which different parts of a program are run simultaneously on two or more computers that are communicating with each other over a network. Distributed computing is a type of segmented or parallel computing, but the latter term is most commonly used to refer to processing in which different parts of a program run simultaneously on two or more processors that are part of the same computer. While both types of processing require that a program be segmented—divided into sections that can run simultaneously, distributed computing also requires that the division of the program take into account the different environments on which the different sections of the program will be running. For example, two computers are likely to have different file systems and different hardware components.

Upon initial read, Wikipedia seems to be fairly close to my definitions but still not exact. Of note, “metered commercial service” rings true within both the Grid Computing and Cloud Computing definitions. However, it also seems to spill into the Utility Computing mantra. As a side note, our newest product, GoGrid, utilizes a metered service similar to how an energy company would charge you for electricity or gas, basing charges simply on what you use.

Traditional “Clouds” vs. Modern “Clouds”

Grid Computing seems to also have some origins in the idea of harnessing multiple computer resources to gain a more powerful source of shared power and computational resources. folding@home However, I would like to suggest that this definition is showing some age and, in my opinion, falls more under Distributed Computing. When I think about Distributed Computing, SETI@Home or Folding@Home come to mind, which is definitely very different from where things are moving now. So, let’s put Distributed Computing aside for this discussion.

Traditionally, the “cloud” was loosely defined as anything outside of a controlled network. When we, as Hosting Providers, discussed “the cloud” in the past with our customers, it was about the nebulous network that is known as the Internet. The cloud is loosely managed and traditionally unreliable. To that end, we do not refer to anything within our control or our networks as “the cloud” as it is too vague and un-manageable. It is outside of our Service Level Agreement and nothing that we can guarantee or deem reliable. However, once traffic enters our network, we manage it. That is where the modern interpretation of the “Cloud” comes into play. Products like Amazon’s EC2 and ServePath’s GoGrid have internalized Cloud Computing by building a reliable infrastructure around it. While the Internet remains as a Cloud of coupled servers and networks, GoGrid, for example, extends this by creating an infrastructure that offers “control in the cloud.”

Originally, I wrote that “Cloud Computing does not necessarily equate to reliable service.” This, obviously, is a contradiction in itself if you apply both the historic and modern definitions at the same time. If one views the Internet as “Cloud Computing,” there are obvious weaknesses within this vast network. With the Internet, you are at the whim of various service providers, Internet backbones and routers managing the traffic within the Cloud. But if one applies the more modern interpretations of this, Cloud Computing now offers robust infrastructure, features and services that were previously unavailable.

Tying the Grid to the Cloud

In order to provide “modern” Cloud Computing, a provider must have some sort of an organized and controlled network infrastructure and topology. What any particular service provider chooses is up to them. For GoGrid, we elected to build our Cloud offering on top of a Grid of servers as well as utilize a Utility-based billing model to only charge the end-user for what they use within our “Cloud.” The end-result is a tightly controlled Grid infrastructure that provides a Cloud Computing experience, more so than most if not all of the other hosting providers out there.

However, what is important here is looking at Cloud, Grid and/or Utility Computing from the perspective of a Hosting Provider. Definitely this is where things get contentious. As I mentioned before, GoGrid offers a traditional utility billing process where you simply pay for what you uses. This breaks from many “old school” hosting billing processes of paying up-front for server(s) and bandwidth, month or year-long contracts and then paying for overages. Does this mean that it is Utility Computing? Not really. One has to dig into this a bit more. GoGrid uses a network of similarly-configured servers bound together by management and administrative servers and virtualization tools to provide a very unique Cloud offering that is distinct from traditional hosting.

Dedicated, Managed and Cloud Servers offered by ServePath guarantee hardware resources like RAM and Load Balancing and full root and administrator access but these paths rapidly diverge at this point. Once one steps into the virtualization arena, or dare I say “the cloud,” new features are available including rapid deployments, cloning, snapshots, fault tolerance, and on-demand scalability.

ServePath chose Grid Computing to power GoGrid and provide the flexibility, scalability and robust infrastructure as the fundamental foundation of an award-winning Cloud Infrastructure product, GoGrid. The end results is a Cloud Hosting Provider offering that delivers better environmental properties, faster vertical and horizontal scalability and ultimately better fits for cost, performance and energy-concerned customers.


[This appeared originally here and is republished by kind permission of the author, who retains copyright.]

More Stories By Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan is the Technology Evangelist for Cloud Computing Infrastructure provider GoGrid and ServePath and is an avid technology pundit. GoGrid is the cloud hosting division of ServePath Dedicated Hosting, a company with extensive expertise and experience in web hosting infrastructure. Follow him on Twitter.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
maydbs 10/30/08 12:11:04 PM EDT

Hi Michael,

even thought you wrote this a few months ago, i got to read it today and thought it was very current, if you notice how much resistance we've been having to Cloud Computing. I linked this post on the blog i'm working on to illustrate that maybe some people are just too afraid because they dont understand about it enough! let me know if it offends you in anyway and i'll remove it immediately. Tks!

Snehal Antani 07/17/08 12:57:37 PM EDT

So in response to a blog post that positions Grid and Cloud computing, I've expanded on my thoughts in this area. You can read the discussions at: http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=214794...

The post is as follows:
I see "Grid Computing" as the coordinated execution of a complex task across a collection of resources. The burden of the "grid" is to provide control over that execution (initiating the execution, stopping the execution, aggregating results of the execution, reporting the status of the execution, and so on).

The "grid" should be transparent to the end user. Take SETI@Home for example. The "User" is the researcher that will analyze the results of all of the computations. The SETI@Home platform manages partitioning the data into discrete chunks, dispatching & monitoring the results across the collection of CPU's spread across the world, and aggregating the results to provide a single view to the "user".

Cloud Computing on the other hand provides the virtualized infrastructure upon which the Grid Endpoints will execute. So for example, the "cloud" would provide an "infinite" number of operating system images on which the SETI@Home software would execute. The cloud shouldn't care about application-specific data, nor should it care about the business logic that is actually executing within a virtualized image. The cloud cares about allocating new images (synonymous to LPAR's) for applications to run, keeping track of how much physical resources (actual CPU cycles for example) the virtual images consumed, cleaning up the virtual images upon completion, and billing the client for the amount of resources consumed. So with these definitions, going back to my example of SETI@Home, I would argue that this software has both a grid computing component as well as a cloud computing component, where the # of registered computers is part of a pool of hardware resources that already have the SETI@Home grid application containers installed and ready to go), but we should be sure to see 2 separate components and responsibilities: the decision to pick a physical machine to dispatch to, and the grid container that executes the scientific processing.

To summarize, grid applications and therefore the "Grid Computing" paradigm, which I consider an application architecture and containers for running the business logic, would execute on top of an "infrastructure cloud", which appears as an infinite # of LPAR's.

BTW, we've had the ability to run'private clouds' for 30-40 years - multi-tenancy via S/390 & MVS - and we do it all over the place today. The key difference is that today, w/ Amazon EC2 for example, we can dynamically create and then destroy complete 'LPARS' relatively cheaply; whereas in the mainframe and other big iron hardware, LPAR's tend to be statically defined. In both cases the hardware is virtualized under the covers, some sort of VM/hypervisor contains the operating system image, some type of application server or container executes the business logic, and some type of workload manager assures workload priorities and provides the chargeback.

I've alluded to some of this in my article on 'enterprise grid and batch computing': http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/techjournal/080 4_antani/0804_antani.html.

The Parallel Job Manager (described in that article) in WebSphere XD Compute Grid would essentially be the Grid Manager, whose job is to coordinate the execution of complex tasks across the cluster of resources (Grid Execution Environments). Today we don't discuss the ability to dynamically create new LPAR's (and therefore call ourselves a cloud computing infrastructure), but you can easily do this with a product like Tivoli Provisioning Manager. Basically, take the bottom image in my article: http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/techjourn al/0804_antani/0804_antani.html#xdegc and connect Tivoli Provisioning Manager to the On-Demand Router (part of WebSphere Virtual Enterprise).

Snehal Antani 06/29/08 06:41:06 PM EDT

Excellent article. This provides an excellent survey of the technologies and helps put each of them in perspective. I wrote an article that compliments this one; I discuss how various patterns from each of these domains can be brought together to provide a complete grid and batch solution: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/websphere/techjournal/0804_antani/0804...

Blue Grid 06/06/08 04:00:15 PM EDT

IBM has devoted 200 researchers to its cloud computing project.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business. Though, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected with a majority of IoT projects having failed. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief IoTologist at Wipro, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology portfolios and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will delve in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great dea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
910Telecom exhibited at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and exchanges.
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, discussed how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a new m...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...