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Essential Cloud Computing Characteristics
According to NIST the cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, & four deployment models

If you ask five different experts you will get maybe five different opinions what cloud computing is. And all five may be correct. The best definition of cloud computing that I have ever found is the National Institute of Standards and Technology Definition of Cloud Computing. According to NIST the cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models. In this post I will look at the essential characteristics only, and compare to the traditional computing models; in future posts I will look at the service and deployment models.

Because computing always implies resources (CPU, memory, storage, networking etc.), the premise of cloud is an improved way to provision, access and manage those resources. Let's look at each essential characteristic of the cloud:

On-Demand Self-Service
Essentially what this means is that you (as a consumer of the resources) can provision the resources at any time you want to, and you can do this without assistance from the resource provider.

Here is an example. In the old days if your application needed additional computing power to support growing load, the process you normally used to go through is briefly as follows: call the hardware vendor and order new machines; once the hardware is received you need to install the Operating System, connect the machine to the network, configure  any firewall rules etc.; next, you need to install your application and add the machine to the pool of other machines that already handle the load for your application. This is a very simplistic view of the process but it still requires you to interact with many internal and external teams in order to complete it - those can be but are not limited to hardware vendors, IT administrators, network administrators, database administrators, operations etc. As a result it can take weeks or even months to get the hardware ready to use.

Thanks to the cloud computing though you can reduce this process to minutes. All this lengthy process comes to a click of a button or a call to the provider's API and you can have the additional resources available within minutes without. Why is this important?

Because in the past the process involved many steps and usually took months, application owners often used to over provision the environments that host their application. Of course this results in huge capital expenditures at the beginning of the project, resource underutilization throughout the project, and huge losses if the project doesn't succeed. With cloud computing though you are in control and you can provision only enough resources to support your current load.

Broad Network Access
Well, this is not something new - we've had the Internet for more than 20 years already and the cloud did not invent this. And although NIST talks that the cloud promotes the use of heterogeneous clients (like smartphones, tablets etc.) I do think this would be possible even without the cloud. However there is one important thing that in my opinion  the cloud enabled that would be very hard to do with the traditional model. The cloud made it easier to bring your application closer to your users around the world. "What is the difference?", you will ask. "Isn't it that the same as Internet or the Web?" Yes and no. Thanks to the Internet you were able to make your application available to users around the world but there were significant differences in the user experience in different parts of the world. Let's say that your company is based on California and you had a very popular application with millions of users in US. Because you are based in California all servers that host your application are either in your basement or in a datacenter that is nearby so that you can easily go and fix any hardware issues that may occur. Now, think about the experience that your users will get across the country! People from East Coast will see slower response times and possibly more errors than people from the West. If you wanted to expand globally then this problems will be amplified. The way to solve this issue was to deploy servers on the East Cost and in any other part of the world that you want to expand to.

With cloud computing though you can just provision new resources in the region you want to expand to, deploy your application and start serving your users.

It again comes to the cost that you incur by deploying new data centers around the world versus just using resources on demand and releasing them if you are not successful. Because the cloud is broadly accessible you can rely on having the ability to provision resources in different parts of the world.

Resource Pooling
One can argue whether resource pooling is good or bad. The part that brings most concerns among users is the colocation of application on the same hardware or on the same virtual machine. Very often you can hear that this compromises security, can impact your application's performance and even bring it down. Those have been real concerns in the past but with the advancement in virtualization technology and the latest application runtimes you can consider them outdated. That doesn't mean that you should not think about security and performance when you design your application.

The good side of the resource pooling is that it enabled cloud providers to achieve higher application density on single hardware and much higher resource utilization (sometimes going up to 75% to 80% compared to the 10%-12% in the traditional approach). As a result of that the price for resource usage continues to fall. Another benefit of the resource pooling is that resources can easily be shifted where the demand is without the need for the customer to know where those resources come from and where are they located. Once again, as a customer you can request from the pool as many resources as you need at certain time; once you are done utilizing those you can return them to the pool so that somebody else can use them. Because you as a customer are not aware what the size of the resource pool is, your perception is that the resources are unlimited. In contrast in the traditional approach the application owners have always been constrained by the resources available on limited number of machines (i.e. the ones that they have ordered and installed in their own datacenter).

Rapid Elasticity
Elasticity is tightly related to the pooling of resources and allows you to easily expand and contract the amount of resources your application is using. The best part here is that this expansion and contraction can be automated and thus save you money when your application is under light load and doesn't need many resources.

In order to achieve this elasticity in the traditional case the process would look something like this: when the load on your application increases you need to power up more machines and add them to the pool of servers that run your application; when the load on your application decreases you start removing servers from the pool and then powering them off. Of course we all know that nobody is doing this because it is much more expensive to constantly add and remove machines from the pool and thus everybody runs the maximum number of machines all the time with very low utilization. And we all know that if the resource planning is not done right and the load on the application is so heavy that the maximum number of machines cannot handle it, the result is increase of errors, dropped request and unhappy customers.

In the cloud scenario where you can add and remove resource within minutes you don't need to spend a great deal of time doing capacity planning. You can start very small, monitor the usage of your application and add more and more resources as you grow.

Measured Service
In order to make money the cloud providers need the ability to measure the resource usage. Because in most cases the cloud monetization is based on the pay-per-use model they need to be able to give the customers break down of how much and what resources they have used. As mentioned in the NIST definition this allows transparency for both the provider and the consumer of the service.

The ability to measure the resource usage is important in to you, the consumer of the service, in several different ways. First, based on historical data you can budget for future growth of your application. It also allows you to better budget new projects that deliver similar applications. It is also important for application architects and developers to optimize their applications for lower resource utilization (at the end everything comes to dollars on the monthly bill).

On the other side it helps the cloud providers to better optimize their datacenter resources and provide higher density per hardware. It also helps them with the capacity planning so that they don't end up with 100% utilization and no excess capacity to cover unexpected consumer growth.

Compare this to the traditional approach where you never knew how much of your compute capacity is utilized, or how much of your network capacity is used, or how much of your storage is occupied. In rare cases companies were able to collect such statistics but almost never those have been used to provide financial benefit for the enterprise.

Having those five essential characteristics you should be able to recognize the "true" cloud offerings available on the market. In the next posts I will go over the service and deployment models for cloud computing.

Read the original blog entry...

About Toddy Mladenov

Toddy Mladenov has more than 15 years experience in software development and technology consulting at companies like Microsoft, SAP and 3Com. Currently he is a CTO of Agitare Technologies, Inc. - a boutique consulting company that specializes in Cloud Computing and Big Data Solutions. Before Agitare Tech Toddy spent few years with PaaS startup Apprenda and more than six years working on Microsft's cloud computing platform Windows Azure, Windows Client and MSN/Windows Live. During his career at Microsoft he managed different aspects of the software development process for Windows Azure and Windows Services. He also evangelized Microsoft cloud services among open source communities like PHP and Java. In the past he developed enterprise software for German's software giant SAP and several startups in Europe, and managed the technical sales for 3Com in the Balkan region.

With his broad industry experience, international background and end-user point of view Toddy has an unique approach towards technology. He believes that technology should be develop to improve people's lives and is eager to share his knowledge in topics like cloud computing, mobile and web development.



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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
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In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

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Cloud Expo was a fantastic event for CSS Corp - we easily exceeded our objectives for engaging with clients and prospects."
AHMAR ABBAS
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With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
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We were extremely pleased with Cloud Expo this year - I’d say it exceeded expectations all around. This is the same info we got from partners who attended as well. Nice job!"
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@CloudExpo Blogs
When it comes to testing and quality assurance, providing the right incentives and metrics is critical. Your release plan shouldn't reward quality assurance and quality engineering teams for rushing systems through the QA process, and you shouldn't create systems that penalize anyone for identifying bugs or other issues that will affect quality. Quality and appropriate testing is crucial, especially in industries that deal with critical safety and security systems. Test environment can take any number of forms. For a critical system you might have several kinds of test environments. Some ar...
Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock these days you have no doubt heard about DevOps and the groundswell building around it. Today DevOps is being defined, promoted, touted and discussed as the next game changer in IT. Rather than argue about the best way to define DevOps in a general sense, this article will focus on something hopefully more useful – how do you determine what DevOps means for your organization? A common goal cited for DevOps is to enable faster release and deployment cycles by taking advantage of agile development methodologies; improved collaboration betwee...
In the spirit of the holidays, we present to you: The Twelve Days of DevOps On the first day of DevOps I finally achieved: Collab’rative IT On the second day of DevOps I finally achieved: 2 Git commits and Collab’rative IT On the third day of DevOps I finally achieved: 3 Jenkins Builds 2 GitMore »
Let’s be real. Nobody wants more email, conference calls, spreadsheets, document sharing sites, outdated visio diagrams, or knowledge bases to search IT teams struggle to effectively collaborate because they don’t have a shared workspace to connect them with each other and the information they need. That’s why we created the first application built for IT that engages the right people with the right information and tools to get IT work done more efficiently and effectively.
SYS-CON Media announced today that ITInvolve launched their popular blog feed on DevOps Journal. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done.
‘tis that time of year to look back on all that’s been accomplished and look forward to what’s in store for the next year. As we reflect on 2014, there are quite a few achievements we are proud of. On the recognition front, ITinvolve was selected as the best-in-class solution for change, configuration, and release management in an independent review by The ITSM Review. We were also recognized as an emerging vendor by Computer Reseller News and were short-listed as the “Most Promising Start Up” by The Cloud Awards. Not bad for a company that was founded just a few short years ago in 2011, an...
Does your DevOps tool chain look like the picture below with lots of disconnected tools and different team members having to bridge the gaps between them? If you are like most DevOps early adopters, this is probably the case. And that’s been accepted as okay because each of these tools was designed for a different group in IT to help them get their jobs done.
A couple years ago I attended several "fast pitch" competitions and events for entrepreneurs in Southern California, all designed to give startups a chance to "pitch" their ideas in about 60 seconds to a panel of representatives from the local investment community. Similar to television's "Shark Tank," most of the ideas pitches were harshly critiqued, with the real intent of assisting participating entrepreneurs in developing a better story for approaching investors and markets.
A breakthrough approach for Change, Config, and Release Today, we were thrilled to find out the ITinvolve has been awarded the best-in-class designation for Change, Configuration, and Release Management by the independent ITSM Review. This award acknowledges what our customers already know and reflects the vision, innovation, and effort that ITinvolve’s R&D organization has put into building a breakthrough solution for a rather stagnant market. The result of a months-long evaluation that included extended demonstrations and deep dive Q&A with an independent expert, we are simply glowing at w...
In Part I of this blog I explained which metrics on the Web Server, App Server and Host allow me to figure out how healthy the system and application environment is: Busy vs. Idle Threads, Throughput, CPU, Memory, etc. In Part 2, I focus on the set of metrics captured from within the application server (#Exceptions, Errors, etc.) as well as the interaction with the database (connection pools, roundtrips to database, amount of data loaded, etc.). Most of the screenshots shown in this blog comes from real performance data shared from our Dynatrace Free Trial users that leveraged my Share Your P...
Last week I was able to catch up with Chris Tranter, Technical Lead at Hallmark UK. Hallmark’s engineering team runs on tight deadlines, and like all popular websites, places a huge importance on customer experience. As you can imagine, their site has abnormal and inconsistent load times, especially through the holiday season. Ensuring a smooth, seamless experience without stalls, outages, or crashes is extremely important. It was great to see how AppDynamics APM can become a necessary solution on a developer’s toolkit.
Not only will the Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in the big game, but many web based companies will be taking on large-scale traffic challenges after airing their prime time commercials that day. After hearing this, you should ignore the pregame hype, put down the nachos and get your servers ready for maxxed out user load.
Recent data breaches involved an unclassified computer network used by President Obama’s senior staff, prompting countermeasures by the administration and resulting in temporary system outages. Officials said the attack did not appear to be aimed at destruction of either data or hardware, or assuming control of other systems at the White House, which poses the question – what were the hackers looking for?
SYS-CON Media announced today that Plutora launched a blog feed on DevOps Journal with over 3,500 story reads in less than a week. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done.
In today’s highly connected world, the benefits and widespread adoption of cloud computing are not just limited to enterprises and government agencies; its transformative impact has prompted changes to a variety of businesses across several verticals – both big and small. In fact, a recent study by Emergent Research, ‘Small Business Success in the Cloud,’ found that the percentage of U.S. small businesses using cloud computing is expected to grow by more than half, from 37 percent to nearly 80 percent, by the year 2020.
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group