Cloud Computing

Standard

1.      Brief Description

The shift from traditional software models to the Internet has gained momentum over the last 10 years. Cloud computing provides new ways to collaborate and work, even via mobile devices.  Traditional software is very expensive to deploy, configure and install and a team hardware and software experts is needed. With cloud computing, you eliminate headaches of managing hardware and software because you’re managing it yourself.  You only pay for what you need and use, upgrades are automatic and scaling becomes easy. Cloud based applications can be up and running in days or weeks and costs much less.  A wide range of business functions can be performed from many different kinds of applications, i.e. CRM (Customer Relations Management), HR, and accounting.

With cloud computing, there’s a major workload shift.  Local companies are no longer required do all the heavy lifting running applications. The network of computers that comprise the cloud does it instead. Hardware and software requirements and demands from the users’ side are diminished.  The only software that is required is the software that runs the cloud’s interface software, which can be a browser. When speaking of cloud computing, it is divided into two sections – front end and back end. They are connected via the Internet or network and the front end is the user side and the backend is the cloud section.

Cloud computing is more than a service sitting in some remote data center.  It’s a set of approaches that can help organizations quickly, effectively add and subtract resources in almost real time. Cloud Computing is offered in different forms: Public Clouds, Private Clouds and Hybrid Clouds (combination Private and Public). Public cloud applications, storage and other resources are made available to the general public by a service provider. These services are free or offered on a pay-per-use model. Generally, public cloud service providers like Microsoft and Google own and operate the infrastructure and offer access only via Internet. Private cloud is cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third-party and hosted internally or externally. Hybrid Cloud is a combination of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models (Cloud Computing, 2012).

There are three types of cloud computing: IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service):

IaaS– In its most basic form of a service model offers computers or virtual machines, raw block storage, firewalls, load balancers and a network

PaaS –In this model, cloud providers offer a computing platform, typically an operating system, programming languages, databases and web servers.

SaaS –In this model, service providers offer application software in the cloud and users access this software from cloud clients.

2.      Related Standards

There is much hype around cloud computing that has led to a plethora of open source activities and standards. This is leading to a realization that there isn’t enough. There is a lack of customer driven prioritization and focus centering on cloud standards. Cloud Standards Customer Council is comprised of IBM, Kaavo, CA Technologies, Rackspace and Software AG.  Some standards and organizations are listed here:

Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF)-

Open Virtualization Format (OVF): This specification describes an open source, secure, portable, efficient and extensible format for packaging and distributing software for the purposes of running virtual machines.

Open Source Standards Incubator

Cloud Management Working Group (CmWG)-

Cloud Auditing Data Federation Working Group (CADF)-

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-

“NIST is posting its working definition of cloud computing that serves as a foundation for its upcoming publication on the topic (available above). Computer scientists at NIST developed this definition in collaboration with industry and government. It was developed as the foundation for a NIST special publication that will cover cloud architectures, security, and deployment strategies for the federal government” (Welcome to the Cloud Standards WIKI , 2012).

These are only some of the numerous standards and working group that define Cloud Computing.

3.       Products/Services

Cloud computing is considered a service and can be broken down into four categories; IaaS; PaaS; SaaS; and Cloud Administration:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – service infrastructures normally include servers, storage, network access, backup services, configuration management and dynamic scaling. Below are two examples of IaaS services:

  • Force – It is a platform infrastructure that is designed for rapid application development.  It uses Apex Code, the development language that let you build applications and features on demand.
  • Windows Azure – It is a platform infrastructure that allows you to develop and host applications in a cloud environment. The platform is built to support applications at the enterprise level.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is software architecture for managing the cloud with dynamic scaling and necessary resource allocation to support and run applications.  Below are two examples of PaaS services:

  • LongJump – Provides a platform for developing and deploying business applications for managing data, streamling collaborative processes and provide actionable analysisThe platform can be installed in the datacenter, private cloud or on the LongJump cloud.
  • Joyent Smart Platform – This is an open source development platform for web applications that provides cloud administrative services.  Code is uploaded by the developers and the Smart platform sets up the infrastructure needed for the website.

Software as a Service (SaaS) – This category contains development environments that use a cloud platform to build, manage and deliver.  They run on both private clouds and public clouds.  Below are two examples of SaaS services:

  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – This service is provided directly to customers that are using Amazon Web Services.  It is a virtual computing environment that allows you to run custom applications or images of your pre-existing applications.
  • LotusLive – Is a suite of software applications that IBM offers for collaboration and communication that can run on the LotusLive cloud.  LotusLive Notes service is a hybrid service that supports both on premise and cloud deployment with directory synchronization between the two.

Cloud Administration – This grouping provides applications for management and administrative services for controlling a cloud installation including security management and data migration.  Below are two examples of administration services:

  • VPN-Cube – This is a management tool for addressing and security of the cloud platform and for controlling topology.  It uses an open source virtual private network application to create an encrypted network within a single cloud or across multiple clouds.
  • rPath – Is a release automation platform that allows you to automate the creation, provisioning, and maintenance of software systems across different networks. The networks can be physical, virtual or cloud-based environments.  It allows you to instantly deploy or move between any public or private cloud environments.

One Cloud product that law enforcement is using in the Baltimore area is Xora’s Field Force Manager.  The Baltimore dispatchers can now easily identify where all their offices are located using the Field Force Manager.  The Field Force Manager keeps track of all officers through GPS tracking on department issued BlackBerry smart phones.  Now, dispatch can send the closest officers to an incident thereby reducing the response time.  When dealing with a crowd control situation whether it goes good or bad, the police department can use the software to see location of the officers during the event and make the appropriate changes for next time.

4.        Players

Below are the top ten players of cloud computing for 2012:

VMWare – In the coming year, VMware will become a serious player in the cloud computing with a rollout the vCloud Director 1.5.  It provides management and automation for private cloud computing.  VMWare is trying to position themselves as the middleman or go to guy for enterprise private and public clouds.

Microsoft – With their hosting of private cloud productivity suite, Office 365, according to Microsoft over 100,000 businesses are using this technology to a certain degree.  This year they rolled out of System Center 2012 and Windows Server 8, both of which support private cloud computing.

BlueLock – This company has a solid reputation for reliability.  They connect customers VMWare data centers with their private cloud, allowing small to medium companies to use private cloud computing.  This year they hope to focus on multiple virtual data center integration including data recovery and global cloud.

 Citrix – Recently Citrix Systems Inc. has purchased several cloud computing infrastructure and service companies to add to their current portfolio of cloud support. Their current products for cloud virtualization and collaboration include XenServer, XenDesktop, CloudGateway and GoToMeeting.

Joyent Inc. – This company was chosen by Dell to power Dell’s cloud computing. This public cloud provider also provides services for several online gaming platforms and hosts LinkedIn, the popular professional social network.

Verizon/Terremark – Launched an Enterprise Cloud Private Edition, a single-tenant environment providing the level of security required by large enterprises and government agencies.  They also have a good understanding about the value of accessibility and integration.

Salesforce.com – This company is involved with the hot items of cloud computing; social media, mobile computing and real-time computing.  They have recently acquired Heroku, with their popular Ruby platform service. There are currently over 105,000 applications available at the service.

CenturyLink/Savvis – CenturyLink acquisition of Savvis shows how serious CenturyLink is about cloud computing.   CenturyLink has the hosting, networking and other infrastructure assets.  And Savvis has a collection of cloud products, colocation and managed hosting cloud services.

Rackspace Inc. – This company is the co-creator of the open source cloud operating system, OpenStack, now in its fifth release.  The company made 1.3 billion dollars in fiscal year 2011.  They employ over 4000 employees, they have over 170,000 customers and own over 233,000 square feet of data centers worldwide and house over 80,000 servers.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) – Is the top company for the third year in a row.  Recently they have been rolling out new services design for enterprise IT, a hard market to break into for a public cloud provider.  Amazon leads the pack by cutting prices 19 times in the last six years.

5.      Future Outlook

The future of cloud computing is looking bright. According to a Pew survey of  IT experts and stakeholders, by 2020 they expect most software applications will be accessed online and  users will perform most computing and communicating activities through connections to servers operated by outside firms in the cloud.  However, large companies are less likely to put most of their work in a public cloud because of control and security issues but are moving towards private and hybrid solutions.   Rather than a thing, the cloud is now being seen by businesses as a concept or idea of tapping into a utility IT model so that a company can focus on what it makes and sells, rather than investing time and energy building its own IT environment.

6.      Summary

The cloud has come a long way since it started as a cartoon cloud in a network diagram representing undefined or unknown portions of the network.   Although the concept is still relatively new to some, businesses looking to gain a competitive edge and save money are looking into it to reduce their infrastructure and the complexity of their IT environment.  Instead of purchasing software and servers, they are purchasing IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services and shifting to a utility model where the service is metered like electricity with on-demand capacity that can be scaled up or down.  It’s more than hype; the cloud is a new business landscape and model that is here to stay.

   References

Converged Cloud Solutions (2012) Retrieved from http://www8.hp.com/us/en/business-      solutions/solution.html?compURI=1079449

 How Cloud Computing Works (2012) Retrieved from     http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-computing.htm

 

What is Cloud Computing (2010) Retrieved from            http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2372163,00.asp

 Welcome to the Cloud Standards WIKI (2012) Retrieved from http://cloud-       standards.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

 Cloud Computing (2012) Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

Top 10 cloud computing providers of 2012 (2012) Retrieved from

http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com/photostory/2240149038/Top-10-cloud-           providers-of-2012/1/Introduction#contentCompress

Directory of cloud computing products and services (2010) Retrieved from       http://cloudynews.com/directory/

 Cloud Computing for Law Enforcement (2011)  Retrieved from http://cloudcomputing.sys-      con.com/node/1810027

The Future of Cloud Computing (2010) Retrieved from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1623/future-cloud-computing-technology-experts

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