Cloud: It s not a nebulous concept

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1 WHITEPAPER Author: Stuart James Cloud: It s not a nebulous concept Challenging and removing the complexities of truly understanding Cloud

2 Removing the complexities to truly understand Cloud Author: Stuart James From the perspective of any business or indeed individual that uses any kind of technology, Cloud is the most over-used buzzword in business technology today, a loose label applied to a range of solutions that apparently solve all manner of issues and promise better services with all kinds of benefits. Contents 01. What is Cloud? P3 What s in a name? P3 In the beginning... P3 What is a Mainframe? P3 The problem with Mainframes... P4 How were they used at the time? P4 Has anyone concisely explained what it really is? Or is it all too easy to throw the word Cloud into an offering and expect that alone to demonstrate capability. In fact, have the majority of us just accepted it, as everyone else seems to know what it is and does, and we don t want to look ill prepared or uneducated amongst our peers? Virtualisation was born Why did we move away from Mainframes? The problem with modern day servers... P4 P4 P4 Throughout this whitepaper, nothing has been assumed, and to some may seem basic. This is intentionally so. My goal is for any reader to gain a clearer view of what Cloud really is. If you re looking to understand the possibilities of Cloud if utilised correctly, download our whitepaper entitled The Emperor s new Cloud. Questions this white paper will answer Is Cloud virtualisation? P5 02. The Cloud itself P6 03. Types of Cloud P7 04. What is Cloud Computing? P8 05. Conclusion P9 What is Cloud? Where has Cloud technology come from? Does it actually offer anything new? What is the difference between Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud What is Cloud computing Questions The Emperor s new Cloud white paper answers: Is Cloud the answer to all problems? Are there any true cost benefits? Does an Opex only model really help my business? How do I know if Cloud is right for my business?

3 01. What is Cloud? What s in a name? In the last 10 years we have been moving towards the consumption of technology in the same way we use gas or electricity. A few names were put forward for this model: Utility Computing, Grid Computing, Cloud Computing and to a certain extent even outsourcing or hosting. All of these mean more or less the same thing, however; Utility and grid aren t new terms and have been in use for many years Outsourcing became a dirty word in the late 1990 s when many businesses failed to realise the perceived benefits and went through a period of insourcing Hosting has been delivered successfully for many years from renting rack space in someone else s Data Centre (Co-Location). Or having a vendor providing a server for a businesses use (e.g. virtual or physical web servers) with the business paying a monthly or annual fee for the service So is Cloud simply a rebranding of what we already have? To a certain extent it is exactly that, a reinvention of what we already and have used for many years. However there is more than just one element to a Cloud solution. In the beginning... To many the first real use of computers in business were the huge Mainframes that powered the world s largest businesses in the 60 s and 70 s. Mainframe technology can actually trace its roots back to WWII and the ENIGMA code breaking machine, widely regarded as the first ever super-computer. So why are Mainframes so important to the understanding of Cloud? The answer becomes quite apparent; nearly every component that a Cloud service requires existed in the computing environments of the late 60 s and early 70 s! What is a Mainframe? Mainframes can be described very simply as a core group of required components: CPU (the processor that is the thinking part of a computer) Memory (where calculations and results are kept when in use) Storage (long term storage of files and documents, originally to large tape reels, now primarily disks) Network (allowing a computer to talk to another one) Operating System (the chief program that tells all the components how to work together) Programs (individual pieces of software designed to perform a certain task) So what has changed over the years? Arguably very little. All those components used then are still requirements now. They are just faster, cheaper, and far more widely available than ever before

4 The problem with Mainframes... Size - Many took up entire floors just to be able to run the monthly accounts. Cost - If your business had anything much more sophisticated than an electronic typewriter you would have had to invest a massive amount of money even for basic functionality. Complexity - Not by modern day standards, but you needed experienced and costly engineers to run, maintain and even worse, repair them. How were they used at the time? Now to the interesting part! Due to the size, cost, complexity and overhead many office buildings or campuses had a single Mainframe but then shared out the computing power to the tenant businesses. Let s put that another way, you shared computing resources with other businesses upon a single platform, paid a percentage towards the costs and had IT services delivered to your office and users with no upfront investment or associated cost of building your own infrastructure. Sound familiar? Virtualisation was born By the late 60 s it just seemed crazy to have all this computing power dedicated to running a solitary program, especially when loading the program could take many hours. A new idea was developed where a Kernel program was built onto the Mainframe hardware first. The Kernel s job was to talk to each of the programs and book a time slot for each one to take turns using the computing resources, thus ensuring the best possible use of the hardware. This was imaginatively called time sharing. That Kernel is what we would now call a Hypervisor, which is the basic component of a virtual environment. In the early 1970 s IBM coined the phrase Virtual Machine and also Virtualisation. Why did we move away from Mainframes? All those massive mainframes running all those programs could never be sustainable, so it was deemed a better idea to have a smaller computer that could happily run a program or two for a business and sit in a cupboard or under a desk, thus the modern day server was born. The problem with modern day servers... Roll forward through the years and we have new problems, those single box servers have multiplied. All of a sudden we need big costly rooms that get filled up with more and more servers, each running a new program, each requiring costly expertise to run, repair and deliver to the business the key applications it needs to function in modern times. A solution to this problem becomes clear, wouldn t it be a fantastic idea to build one big computer that replaces all the smaller servers, virtualise it and just worry about that one physical piece of hardware? In essence, virtualisation returns us to the days of the mainframe and we have gone full circle

5 Is Cloud virtualisation? There is much talk, and indeed incorrect statements that Cloud is virtualisation and vice versa. So is Virtualisation an exciting and new technology? Is it a ground breaking solution to business problems? Or is it in fact a 40 year old solution that has been in constant use by many globally and is currently enjoying new prominence over the last ten years? Modern virtualisation technologies are far more advanced and with many more features than those of decades past, and at best form a part of a cloud solution. Something that needs to be made clear though, is that you do not have to have any form of virtualisation to build a Cloud solution, it is a simple component. This is explained in more detail later in The Emperor s new Cloud whitepaper. What is true however is that virtual technologies are just cheaper, faster and far more widely available now than ever before

6 Cloud: It s not a nebulous concept 02. The Cloud itself Cloud is a confusing term, and is often used out of place. A simple statement answers What is the Cloud? The cloud is the network. The network could be your own business connections between one site and another or the internet. Think of the notion of Clouds as the metaphor itself. Above your head there can always be clouds, no matter where you are on the planet. Now think of that cloud covering as the internet and it can rain down connectivity to you wherever you are. This can be on a satellite phone, 3G modem, mobile phone, broadband and IP connectivity. In this modern age you can get connected anywhere thanks to a network that spans the entire globe. That is the Cloud network the Cloud Itself. On most network diagrams, where offices connect to each other, or break out through a firewall to the internet, each connection will be signified as a lightning bolt or a line, as used in the diagram below. All will be aiming at an illustration of a cloud. DATA CENTRE LARGE SITES HOMEWORKERS Y AR IM PR UP CK BA SATELLITE SITES BRANCH SITES

7 03. Types of Cloud There are three types of cloud networks and there are fierce debates over the values they offer and the correct choice for a business. They are: Private This can be best explained as your own private business network, you can join these remotely through a VPN connection on a PC, but is easier to understand as the connections you can make in an office or between offices before you break out to the internet through a firewall. As this is an isolated network only in use by your business it is deemed that Private Cloud networks offer the best overall security (as long as it is built correctly of course) as you or your communications provider, remain in full control Public - This is a network that involves the use of the World Wide Web, or accessing another computer and its applications through a www address. You should be prompted for security details to access the other computer or application, but the network connection itself remains a normal browsing connection. This is deemed the least secure as you are on the public network. In reality depending on what resources you intend to send and receive public Cloud connectivity is fine for the majority of standard transactions. You do however lose control of bandwidth and capability; if it was your own network you can improve direct connectivity to an application or resource Hybrid As you have probably already determined, this is a mixed delivery of private infrastructure that remains permanently secured within your own network, with public links to services external to your organisation So is the power of the network a new and ground breaking technology? No. The first bits of data sent between one computer and another occurred in the late 1940 s, by the 60 s they could communicate over dedicated telephone data lines, by the late 70 s you could receive a managed data network from suppliers globally. To continue the theme, there is nothing that new, it s just faster, cheaper and more widely available than ever before

8 04. What is Cloud Computing? Cloud computing simply means computing resource, where programs and applications are delivered centrally from the network. This results in the as a Service title that many of these solutions now employ. Again with so much associated with Cloud, there are many grey areas and blurring between different solutions. as a Service primarily consists of: SaaS Software as a Service. An application that is delivered traditionally on a per user basis. Many examples of this are currently available from mail services through to CRM systems and even collaboration and document management PaaS Platform as a Service. This allows the delivery of applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. All the required hardware and software components are delivered by a provider who then gives you the freedom to concentrate on providing the application back to your business IaaS Infrastructure as a Service. With IaaS a business is free to build, manage and use IT in the same way as on-premise, however the underlying physical components are delivered by a provider, removing the initial up front build costs and on-going maintenance and management fees. Infrastructure can be either dedicated physical components or dedicated Virtual environments Other aas - Many other solutions are trying to coin phrases to deliver additional service from the Cloud, with some the links are tenuous at best

9 05. Conclusion Cloud is a culmination of right place right time. We have the fastest, most reliable, affordable and available network and hardware yet. We have automation and virtualisation tools advanced enough to remove headaches, risks and failures from all aspects of our business applications, again at an affordable cost. All this coming together forms the Cloud and its services. In individual parts nothing is new, nothing offers a giant leap in technology, and nothing requires dramatic or drastic changes. Together though, it is a powerful and agile mix of technologies and that s why it is key to understand really what you are getting and what it means to your organisation. If you can understand its components you can easily be aware that when one vendor promotes Cloud, it s not actually always viable without looking into all other parts of what delivering (and receiving) cloud actually involves. Download The Emperor s new Clouds whitepaper for details including: Is Cloud the answer to all problems? Are there any true cost benefits? Does an Opex only model really help my business? If you wish to discuss your new found understanding of Cloud and want a provider that can deliver all the above, we at Timico believe in presenting a series of logical statements backed by fact, which allow s our customers and partners to make an informed choice from them. About the author Stuart has had a varied career delivering everything from communications to fully managed outsourced environments. He has worked as an IT partner and for the world s largest hardware and virtualisation vendors. He is passionate about dispelling myths and explaining technologies such as Cloud in plain English. Stuart is a regular speaker at Cloud events for businesses across the UK

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