Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Ashish Nanjiani, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Apache, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Apache: Article

The Three Salient Features of Cloud Computing

:Accessibility, Availability, and Scalability - Cloud computing provides tangible benefits, available to users on request

The Duo Consulting Blog

When you boil it down to brass tacks, cloud computing is just a new take on an old idea. Businesses are drawn to the facilities that cloud computing has to offer because the availability of our resources dictates our current needs...and our needs always expand beyond the capacity of our resources.

The first computers took up the space of a three-car garage. It’s amazing to think that all the computing power of those vacuum tube behemoths can now fit on a silicon chip the size of your fingernail, with processing room besides. However, even with all these advances in technology, we find it’s still not enough.

As a multimedia guy, I recognize two governing laws of data:

  • The availability of our resources dictates our current needs.
  • Our needs always expand beyond the capacity of our resources.

It is because of these two laws that more businesses are drawn to the facilities that cloud computing has to offer. Before they reach this decision, they usually first follow a process similar to this:

  • Build a bigger system.
  • Compress the bigger system into a smaller space.
  • Connect systems together to share resources.

My Dad is Bigger than Your Dad

Our first inclination is to put more stuff into the existing box. Where previously we would add more vacuum tubes to give our computers the ability to calculate floating point numbers, nowadays we install faster processors (or multiprocessors), larger hard drives, and more powerful graphics cards with higher video display RAM. The more technically inclined may even tweak the hardware to improve the speed of the data path between each of these components as well.

These bigger systems initially appear to provide all the computing power we need. We are able to run virtually any application, and store all of our data, on a single machine. Before long before we begin to realize new problems:

  • These devices are finite. Disk space is a concrete measurement, and fairly soon we are horrified to learn we can’t store the digital photos of little Mischa’s tenth birthday party because our hard drives are already maxed out.
  • These devices are insecure. Because all the applications and data reside on the same machine, that information is not safe in the event that computer is stolen, or worse, destroyed during a disaster.

Mainframe Computing

What if we were to instead invest in a mainframe computer—a really large computer that can hold our vast quantities of information? Then all our data would be in a centralized location safely protected from the elements. Also, theft of mainframe computers is really not an issue: I doubt very much that even a useful part of one would fit inside a hockey bag.

In a mainframe environment, to use any of our applications, all we’d need to do is connect a dumb terminal to this mainframe. Without any processing ability of its own, the terminal provides all the power of the mainframe at our disposal. Connect several hundred dumb terminals to the same mainframe and we can run an organization called IBM.

Reality Bites

While the processing power of mainframe computers is high, the upfront cost to install a mainframe environment is also high, and prohibitive to the average user. But what if we take our powerful desktop computers and connected them all together? For small- to medium-size enterprises, network computing is a lower-cost alternative to investing in a mainframe.

Most local area networks are set up as one or a combination of two ways:

  • Peer-to-Peer: Applications and data are stored on individual computers. Users run applications on their own computers and can allow other users to work with their files from across the wire.
  • Network Server: Applications and data are stored on a central computer or group of computers. Users can run applications installed on their local computer or on the network server. While users are encouraged to store their data on the central server, there is usually nothing to prevent a user from storing files locally as well.

In a networked environment, the security of the data is still at risk, because unlike mainframe components, a network server, usually the size of a standard desktop computer, can fit into a hockey bag. Also, even though a network setup can cost less than a mainframe, to properly configure it and continue to secure it requires a full-time IT specialist, which adds additional overhead. And once again, space is finite. An organization could easily outgrow even the highest capacity hard drive on their network server.

Head in the Cloud Computing

Through cloud computing, you can have all the power of several mainframe computers, the interconnectivity of a network system, the security of all your data being backed up on a regular basis, and the expertise of several IT specialists, all with a cost equivalent to buying lunch for your staff once a week. With faster Internet connection speeds becoming the norm, many users are already experiencing the benefits of cloud computing and not even realizing it.

Cloud computing is described on Wikipedia as, “…a style of computing where IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’, allowing users to access technology-enabled services ‘in the cloud’ without knowledge of, expertise with, or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.”

If a computer network provides the combination of computing power, storage capacity, user availability, and security that we want, cloud computing is a really large network, with all those features on steroids. Applications and data can be stored on any computer on this network, and while these computers may vary in size, several of them have the processing capability of mainframe computer systems.

We haven’t quite returned to the days of dumb terminals, however. Instead, we use the features of a standard web browser to access Rich Internet Applications (RIA) that simulate the smooth look and feel of a desktop application.

Soft Serve, Not the Ice Cream Kind

Cloud computing provides tangible benefits, available to users on request. Providing these features “as a service” means that the resources can be shared between several users without any noticeable decrease in performance.

Software as a Service (SaaS) reduces the need to install and upgrade software on users’ desktops. The user always opens the most up-to-date copy of the software, because it is maintained at all times. Google Apps and Zoho are examples of companies providing common application software. Both systems even provide an offline mode for times when users aren’t connected to the Internet. Their files are uploaded as soon as their computers are reconnected.

Hardware as a Service (HaaS) provides users with additional computing power, whenever they require it. For instance, if a retailer has a short-term need to process a high volume of point-of-sale (POS) transactions on Boxing Day, applications can be set up to share the processing across additional computers as necessary.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is another growing enterprise. These shared hosting systems provide a development environment for developers to build their own applications using prebuilt modules or custom code.

Accessibility, availability, scalability: The salient features of cloud computing. But when you boil it down to brass tacks, cloud computing is just a new take on an old idea. I didn’t even get to discuss virtualization, which is what gives all these “as a service” features their power. Because of virtualization, while the two governing laws of data still apply, it will take a LONG time for our needs to “expand beyond the capacity of our resources.”

Read, Watch, and Learn

More Stories By Tony Chung

Tony Chung is a creative communications consultant who draws from his broad range of experiences and abilities to find parallel strategies for solving problems quickly and efficiently. He combines words, music, multimedia, web programming, technological passion, and analytical wisdom to build solutions timed to suit your business needs and requirements.

Submit a request for information on his consulting services now.

Comments (0)

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that CHEETAH Training & Innovation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CHEETAH Training & Innovation is a cloud consulting and IT training firm specializing in improving clients cloud strategies and infrastructures for medium to large companies.
"Tintri focuses on the Ops side of the DevOps, which basically is pushing more and more of the accessibility of the infrastructure to the developers and trying to get behind the scenes," explained Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMC has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo and Big Data at Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Global buyers rely on TMC’s content-driven marketplaces to make purchase decisions and navigate markets. Learn how we can help you reach your marketing goals.
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. 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 organi...
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
"We focus on composable infrastructure. Composable infrastructure has been named by companies like Gartner as the evolution of the IT infrastructure where everything is now driven by software," explained Bruno Andrade, CEO and Founder of HTBase, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
It is ironic, but perhaps not unexpected, that many organizations who want the benefits of using an Agile approach to deliver software use a waterfall approach to adopting Agile practices: they form plans, they set milestones, and they measure progress by how many teams they have engaged. Old habits die hard, but like most waterfall software projects, most waterfall-style Agile adoption efforts fail to produce the results desired. The problem is that to get the results they want, they have to ch...
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. ...
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...