Cloud computing redefines Enterprise Computing in ways beyond client-server model and web computing and is a talk of the town recently. Cloud computing extends beyond the concepts of distributed, grid and utility computing abstracting the infrastructure and technological expertise needed for common day to day services.
Cloud computing is an emerging trend in IT world seeking to change the concept of personal computing and taking it to a new level of computing available as a service. Services available for computing are broadly categorized into Software as a Service (SaaS), Utility computing, Web services, Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). It is being estimated that spending on the cloud would increase three fold in next three years
Knowingly or unknowingly, each of us have used cloud computing from last few years with almost every Internet user using public email services, storing personal photographs for sharing with friends and families, socializing via the cloud and many more.
Obvious benefits that the Cloud brings are
· Low initial investments. Pay as per usage model lets one get started without any initial investment.
· No maintenance. Cloud Vendors would bear the complexities of maintenance.
· Instant resource expansion. Firms could easily scale from little to huge resource consumption in few minutes.
Am I ready to jump on Cloud bandwagon?
Key considerations are:
· Architecture and Design overview
· Cost Effective analysis.
· Capacity Planning
· Operational Issues
· Data ownership governing laws
· Green IT
Determining ROI on Cloud Computing
Architecture and Design overview
Current software architecture and design needs to be reviewed to check if it scales to allow computing on the cloud. This includes determining data security isolations with access controls; trust boundaries and identifying business critical data. It also caters to understanding data operations and storage trends within an organization.
Cost Effective analysis.
Software licensing charges, data center costs, infrastructure needs and maintenance, high availability of mission critical data determine the costs. Cloud computing does bring in cost benefits; however it also brings in additional costs in terms of bandwidth needs.
Identifying utilization of various resources like CPU, data storage capacity, network bandwidth and evaluating if they are optimally used. There is no need to jump to the cloud if the existing resources are under used.
High availability depends on the expected uptime defined for system requirements. The cost of each additional nine of availability can grow exponentially.
SLAs are the negotiated terms that outline the obligations of the two parties involved in delivering and using a system, like:
· System type (virtual or dedicated servers, shared hosting)
· Levels of availability
· Performance and metrics
Understanding the risks involved in downtime of the system may critically impact the business and mission critical systems need to be mitigated by tight SLAs.
Data security is determined by Cloud vendor’s security policies. Data security is measured in terms of:
· Physical access to data
· Network security
· Access and Authentication procedures.
· Data encryption techniques.
Data ownership governing laws
There are currently no clear International laws governing the privacy and security of the data posted over the cloud. Governments tend to preview stored data to gather intelligence under national security laws.
The Green Grid consortium estimates that most data centers have a power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of between 1.3 and 3.0.5 A PUE of 3.0 means for every 3.0 watts of electricity entering the facility, only 1.0 watts is used to support computing activities (i.e. servers) while the other 2.0 watts support other infrastructure (i.e. cooling).
Cloud computing promises efficient energy consumption and appropriate utilization of resources.
Key Cloud Vendors:
Amazon’s cloud – Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides Simple Storage Service (S3) as a Storage Virtualization solution in IaaS model, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) as a Platform Virtualization in PaaS model and Simple Queuing Service and SimpleDB as software solutions in the SaaS model.
Google’s Google App Engine is a solution in the PaaS model allowing developers to float Python based applications and host them at Google’s infrastructure.
IBM Computing on Demand (CoD) offers Infrastructure services with variety of Operating Systems and Networking solutions and Storage Services in IaaS model.
- Anand Ved (Team Member – Cloud Computing Project)