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Cloud 101: Blurring the lines between Virtual, Physical, Cloud

Nathan Day | June 29, 2012
By gaining a clear understanding of the capabilities and pricing structure of cloud providers, you should be able to achieve the full promise of the cloud.

The Cloud
Defined by NIST

Five essential characteristics of cloud computing:
•    On-demand self-service
•    Broad network access
•    Resource pooling
•    Rapid elasticity or expansion
•    Measured service

Three cloud service models:
•    Software
•    Platform
•    Infrastructure

Four cloud deployment models:
•    Private
•    Community
•    Public
•    Hybrid

Finding the Right Combination

An IDA study predicted that Infrastructure-as-a-Service adoption is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 21 percent in Singapore while one-third of businesses in Singapore will adopt Software-as-a-Service by 2015[iii]. Evidently many enterprises are eager to reap the undisputed benefits that it offers and if you want to leverage the benefits of the cloud, there are a number of factors you must consider when choosing a cloud services provider, including:

  • What kind of compute power is needed? If your organisation requires significant compute power, such as for database applications, a purely virtual solution may not be your best choice. Because databases require a lot of access to the disk, going through a virtualisation layer may hamper performance - sometimes by between 15 percent and 30 percent depending on the application. In this case, by seeking a cloud provider that offers dedicated servers, you can ensure that your applications run properly while minimising the management and hosting required in-house.

  • How quickly do you need solutions deployed in the cloud? One of the hallmarks of virtualisation is the ability to add servers or increase capacity in a matter of minutes as needed. But is the ability to turn something up that quickly an absolute requirement for your organisation? Today cloud service providers have automated their processes so that even hosted physical infrastructure or private cloud solutions can be deployed in a matter of hours. Such a quick turnaround is still much faster than would be possible if your IT team had to do it themselves.

  • How much will it cost? - Is your compute demand random, spiky or transitory? For most organisations, that isn't the case because workloads often remain steady with occasional spikes. If this describes your workload, you may want to consider finding a cloud provider that offers both monthly and hourly pricing. By selecting one that only offers hourly pricing, you may be paying an unnecessary premium for your baseline infrastructure needs. However, by having the option to go month-to-month, you may find that cloud solutions cost less over time.

As technology advances, the line between virtual, physical and the cloud will continue to blur. But those changes should not diminish the advantages you can expect to achieve by moving infrastructure, applications and services to a cloud provider. By considering these questions, and gaining a clear understanding of the capabilities and pricing structure of cloud providers, you should be able to achieve the full promise of the cloud:  fast provisioning, scalability, ease of deployment and management with a low-cost solution.


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