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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


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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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A key development for the Internet of Things will be the evolution and emergence of the ‘Cloud Name System’, a directory system for Cloud applications in the same way DNS (Domain Name System) works for the web and email. Lori MacVittie wrote a while back about the need for an ‘SNS’ – a Service Name System, a DNS type directory approach but for Cloud Services so that they can be entirely loosely coupled from their IT infrastructure. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, himself described a scenario of ‘Socially Aware Cloud Storage‘ that applies this same ideal of abstraction to our personal data across all the social networks we use. This refers to a distributed (Cloud) storage service that is used to store personal user data for social networks, rather than the social sites holding it themselves.
When people talk about Big Data, the emphasis is usually on the Big. Certainly, Big Data applications are distributed largely because the size of the data on which computations are executed warrants more than a typical application can handle. But scaling the network that provides connectivity between Big Data nodes is not just about creating massive interconnects. In fact, the size of the network might be the least interesting aspect of scaling Big Data fabrics.
Do you avoid stores that have had a credit card breach? You are not alone. About 52% of people avoid merchants who have had a data breach according to a recent Lowcards survey. They surveyed over 400 random consumers to better understand the impact of identity theft on consumer behavior. 17% said they or a family member was a victim of identity theft over the last year with half the cases being credit card theft. 94% said they are more concerned or equally concerned about ID theft. They estimate that there were 13.5 million cases of credit card identity theft in the United States over the last 12 months.
If you've had to test one of today's composite applications, you know that "access" has become one of the most daunting barriers to SDLC acceleration. Whether we're talking about access to dev/test environments or access to dependent applications, the ability to pull all the required pieces together in order to test thoroughly is equivalent to herding feral cats. If you haven't experienced this fun firsthand, consider this: our recent research revealed that systems under test have an average of 30 dependencies, but team members have consistent access to only 6. The time available to access test environments is extremely limited (4 hour slots) and 30% of that limited time was consumed by configuration/setup tasks. Ultimately, testers had time to execute only 50% of the available test plan. Service virtualization is a revolutionary new technology that helps you break through these constraints by providing ubiquitous, global access to complete dev/test environments. Organizations leveraging service virtualization are able to conduct testing earlier, faster, more thoroughly, and more accurately—significantly reducing the risk of application failure. In case you're just starti...
Much has been published about the Open Compute Project. Initiated by Facebook, it has become an industry effort focused on standardization of many parts and components in the datacenter. Initially focused on racks, power and server design, it has also added storage and now networking to its fold. Its goal is fairly straightforward: “how can we design the most efficient compute infrastructure possible”, a direct quote from its web site. The focus of OCP has been mostly around hardware designs and specifications. If you look at the networking arm of OCP, you find several Top of Rack (ToR) ethernet switch hardware designs donated by the likes of Broadcom, Mellanox and Intel. By creating open specifications of hardware designs for fairly standard ethernet switches, the industry can standardize on these designs and economics of scale would drive down the cost to create and maintain this hardware. A noble goal and there are many opinions on both sides of this effort. Mostly referred to as “bare metal” and “commodity”, you can easily spend days reading up on many opinions. Mike Bushong yesterday discussed pricing implications for resellers in this blog post.
In a post Snowden world it is clear that for cloud data security, we need strong encryption. When properly implemented, encryption in the cloud reduces risk to levels acceptable for sensitive data. There is no doubt data protection in the cloud computing era is never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ kind of a solution. It requires a 360-degree view of the company with 365-days a year dedication. The best place to start is with a risk analysis so you know what kind of data you have, its levels of sensitivity, who’s using it, where it’s used and stored, and how and where and over what technologies it’s going to ‘commute’. You need to understand your company’s data – in terms of technology and human weaknesses. Data should be unreadable to an attacker. It must be incoherent at all times to anyone other than you and your trusted personnel: while it’s travelling – or you are; whether it’s in transit, storage, stopping, or resting, data is safest in encrypted form.
Some people are never satisfied. These fearless agents of change are everywhere. They're informed, confident and willing to experiment. They seek out the best business technology solution for the job at hand. They act on instinct. Yes, you could say that they're driven. However, they're also at risk of being labeled as "rogue employees" because they ordered a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering and perhaps expensed it without prior approval. Sometimes they're the champion of progressive projects that are referred to as Shadow IT -- intentionally bypassing their company's formal evaluation and procurement process. How can this happen? Is it just because their activities are tolerated, or are they being encouraged? If so, by whom? Why would any business leader applaud a team member that breaks the rules? Maybe, the simple answer is that staying within the confines of the status-quo won't enable a top-performer to fully apply their talent, achieving their absolute best.
The GovCloud Media Network features agency specific video playlist for registered members. Please enjoy this feature on the Army IT. Please visit the new GovCloud Network Media Library for more video content. For membership information please send request to info@govcloudnetwork.com.
One of the primary principles of object-oriented programming (OOP) is encapsulation. Encapsulation is the way in which the state of an object is protected from manipulation in a way that is not consistent with the way the variable is intended to be manipulated. The variable (state) is made private, that is to say only the object itself can change it directly. Think of it as the difference between an automatic transmission and a standard (stick). With the latter, I can change gears whenever I see fit. The problem is that when I see fit may not be appropriate to the way in which the gears should be shifted. Which is how engines end up being redlined.
Cloud computing has finally come into its own. While we’ve been hearing for 8 years or more that cloud computing would one day take over the enterprise, the fact of the matter is that it’s been slow going. While the spread of cloud computing solutions hasn’t been as rapid as many early proponents predicted it would be, we are now to a place where cloud solutions are seen as viable for most organizations, and are being utilized regularly.
It's an application world; a world that is rapidly expanding. With new opportunities and markets arising driven by mobility and the Internet of Things, it is only going to keep expanding as applications are deployed to provision, license, and manage the growing sensors and devices in the hands of consumers. Applications are not isolated containers of functionality. No application winds up in production without a robust stack of resources and services to support it. Storage and compute, of course, are required, but so are the networking - both stateless and stateful - services that provide for scale, security and performance.
We're launching the "Tap In Open Forum": a new series of blog posts where we detail a current topic being discussed in the software development and testing community and invite you to participate in an open discussion with our best and brightest here at Skytap. Feel free to share your thoughts and we'll do the same! InformationWeek and IBM Mobile Technical Sales Leader Dustin Amrhein presented a webinar last week as part of their “DevOps Rado” series. The Frictionless Enterprise: Built for Business, looked at DevOps as a viable solution for removing the friction that prevents enterprises from innovating at not just the speed they would like, but at the speed absolutely required to stay relevant, and hopefully ahead of their competition.
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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