Cloud is everywhere. Before the lockdown, you would have seen cloud solution advertisements at airports, bridges, public transport and even on stairs. Now we are continuously bombarded by Facebook or even Linkedin’s cloud advertisement. But really, what is cloud? It is an overused word by all the companies due to the trendy nature and common word associated with the pandemic lockdown. At Cloudify.Asia, we continuously try to educate the public and the best way is to refer from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
NIST states that there are 5 essential characteristics of cloud definition. Firstly, broad network access. With faster and cheaper internet access, both companies and consumers have better access to a pool of resources. They can connect from anywhere, literally. These pool of resources, such as IT infrastructure, platform or software can be obtained easily through self-service portals. On demand self-service is a common feature where people can click what they need. This has been boosted through consumers’ behaviour in Google Play and Apple’s AppStore, where you can purchase and install on your own. These pool of resources, are shared with many companies and organizations, and thus has a rapid elasticity feature. It simple mean we can use them like our utilities. When we use more of the resources, we pay more and when we use less, we pay a fraction of it. To do that, the utilities companies such as electricity and water companies would need to be able to meter and measure such consumption. Measured services in cloud is a key aspect of it as well.
Imagine this; instead of paying for ticket for a comedy show, you just pay per laugh at the end of the show. If the comedian is doing a heck of good job, should you be paying more for such quality and vice versa? This is like consumption-based pricing model where you are paying for specific resources such as virtualized processing power (per vCore unit) or even virtual storage (per vStorage GB). It is also metered against the period of usage of these resources. All these are not new to us as we have been using such concept so common daily in our lives. This includes from paying for weapons in a RPG game to paying our electricity bill. We also commonly refer this to mobile post-paid model for baseline-based consumption model. For the given internet data size, you are to pay a fix amount monthly and any usage beyond the agreed package, you will pay as you use.
Now, there are various service models in where the cloud can be of your service. To illustrate, the three key models are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). By moving the priority towards the data, the provider will then manage the rest of the components that are needed. The misconception of cloud is that people assume there aren’t the need of physical server and storage to store these files. To make the matter worst, they think that satellites are being used for the connectivity. This is simply not the case. Your application and files in cloud is stored in a physical server in a specific location. It is connected via global fibre connectivity.
Lastly, there are 4 main deployment models of cloud. Public clouds are popular, and these are solutions such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Computing, and even software like Dropbox, Zoom and Workday. These are available publicly and we typically do not question where the servers are. Private clouds are used in scenario like banking, government or where latency is a main concern. These are close to the users and can only be accessed by them. Hybrid or Multi clouds are mixture usage of on-premise private cloud and public cloud(s). Some of the applications may require extra computational resources and the data can be processed at a larger scale public cloud and then to be keep locally for regulation or compliance reasons. Community clouds are where these are shared within a group for a specific purpose. These include universities’ researches, R&D developments, academic’s data sharing and even healthcare data sharing.
With this, now you know the right definition of cloud. Congratulations, you have graduated from cloudy to certainty.