INTRODUCTION THE CLOUD

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1 INTRODUCTION As technologies rapidly evolve, companies are responding with creative business models and exciting ways to reach new markets. But major technology shifts and the influx of information that comes with them can be intimidating and this is true as businesses face the new revolution: The Cloud. The purpose of this article is to elucidate the idea of the cloud as it applies to businesses, to identify the benefits of migrating to cloud computing, and finally to explain the advantages of DataHouse s specific cloud solutions. THE CLOUD The Evolution of The Cloud Phase I: Mainframe Computing In the past, companies powered their information infrastructure from a mainframe. In one physical location (i.e. a building or an office), this large, powerful computer stored data and ran all the software applications. While it was relatively easy to support multiple applications through one mainframe, maintaining such a large piece of hardware was expensive and inefficient.

2 There were few options available to companies that wanted to automate their business. 1. The first was for each company to own their own mainframe environment. Maintaining this environment, however, proved as significant of a challenge as maintaining the application itself. Hardware and software (for the application as well as to support the mainframe) had to be maintained, draining company resources in terms of physical space, staffing, power, cooling, etc. Additionally, as the mainframe grew in functionality and size, a company might need to hire an entire staff specifically trained to manage mainframes. Today, as technologies have evolved away from this architecture, there is a lack of expertise in this area. 2. The second option was to rent server/storage space from a third-party vendor and use their larger mainframe to run applications. The unscalable and inflexible nature of the mainframe (due to cost limitations associated with hardware), however, negated any potential cost benefits. Phase II: Distributed Computing As lower cost computing became more available (enter the IBM PC in 1981) and as more people wanted access to more powerful applications, mainframe computing became less effective. The next solution for businesses was to replace the mainframe with multiple cheaper computers, each with enough computing power to store data and run applications. In a sense, this computing solution was easier to manage; whereas one bug within the mainframe could shut down every computer relying on it, each cheaper computer ran independently. However, this independence meant that the computers didn t coordinate with each other; data sharing was difficult and any resources saved were negated because each computer had to be changed/fixed/updated individually. Phase III: Cloud Computing Luckily for us, today we have the cloud, which offers a slew of advantages to the computing world. As a very general definition, the cloud is a shared network of computers through which people and companies store data and run software. At its core, the cloud is a data center, a physical building with hardware (computers) and software running on that hardware, connected by pipes and routing to many, many computers. Cloud providers, who manage and maintain these networks, offer services rather than products in that clients are allowed to access and use the cloud, but they do not own any part of it; there is no hardware or software installation. The Best of Both Worlds At the most basic level, two factors go into the total cost of ownership of a computing solution: cost and ongoing support. Mainframe computing offered centralized management, as all the data and applications were centered in the mainframe. However, mainframes and their maintenance were extremely expensive; only large, well-established companies could afford mainframe computing. With distributed computing, companies could buy cheaper, individual computers rather than paying for an expensive mainframe. This made computing more scalable and thus more accessible to smaller companies. However, distributed computing still wasn t an ideal computing solution because without a way to centrally manage all the computers, it was too difficult to support. Cloud computing offers the central management and coordination of mainframe computing with the affordability and scalability of distributed computing. It is therefore an ideal solution for both large and small companies. DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 2

3 Evolution of the Computing Market The market for mainframe computing was very homogeneous; only a few large companies held a monopoly on the entire system (the mainframe and its dependent software). The market stayed homogeneous through the transition to distributed computing, as the individual computers were still manufactured entirely by the same few companies. The market for cloud computing, however, is much more heterogeneous; many companies contribute smaller pieces that altogether render a functional data center with servers and storage. Cloud providers can pick and choose the best pieces to build their infrastructure and can ultimately offer their clients better services. NIST Essential Characteristics: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published an official definition of the cloud, which includes five essential characteristics of every cloud. On-demand self-service: The client can determine how much computing capability is needed from the cloud. Broad network access: Service is offered over a network that the client can access via any standard type of client (e.g. cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc.). Resource pooling: The cloud is able to serve multiple clients by pooling its computing resources and assigning/reassigning them according to demand. Rapid elasticity: Cloud services are elastic in that the client can easily increase or decrease the amount of computing capabilities they pull from the cloud. Measured service: The amount of cloud resources used by a client is measured, allowing the cloud provider to charge on a pay-per-use basis. DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 3

4 Levels of Cloud Services Cloud providers offer multiple levels of services, depending on the client s needs. Level 1: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) The most basic level of cloud services is cloud infrastructure. Clients using cloud infrastructure basically buy an operating system the cloud provider manages the system s CPU, memory and processing. Everything else is up to the client to configure and maintain. This type of cloud service is known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Level 2: Platform as a Service (PaaS) The next level of cloud services is cloud platform. Providers of cloud platform deliver a more comprehensive environment in which the client can develop and deploy applications. The client only needs to worry about designing and implementing software specifically for the application. This branch of cloud computing is called Platform as a Service (PaaS). Level 3: Software as a Service (SaaS) The third level of cloud services is cloud applications. The cloud provider hosts the application, so the client is simply a user of the application. The data associated with this software is stored in the cloud, so the client can interact with the application (also known as a web app) through their web browser. This type of cloud computing is called Software as a Service (SaaS). DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 4

5 Deployment Models There are four deployment options for the cloud: private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud. The main deployment models, private and public cloud, are explained in more detail in the description of DataHouse s cloud services. BENEFITS OF CLOUD COMPUTING Now that a little more light has been shed on the cloud, the advantages of any level of cloud computing are more evident. Cost Efficiency The primary advantage of cloud computing for businesses is that it s incredibly cost efficient. 1. Without hardware or software to install on-premise, there are fewer fees associated with hardware, software licenses, installation, training or updates. 2. The majority of cloud providers have pay-per-use billing, meaning that companies are only charged when actively using cloud services. 3. The multi-tenancy of cloud computing is advantageous because the cost for one cloud is shared among the different clients using it. 4. With a cloud provider, companies don t need to worry about training in-house IT personnel. 5. Switching over to the cloud will open up physical space in the office that was previously occupied by computers and other types of hardware. Flexibility Cloud computing is highly scalable; a cloud can handle an incredibly wide range of activity, giving the client flexibility as business needs or client demands change. Companies can easily and cost-efficiently increase or decrease the amount of resources needed from their cloud provider. Peace of Mind Ultimately, relying on cloud services means that companies can focus solely on their core businesses, having confidence that their IT issues are being managed. Thriving companies today let cloud providers worry about issues like privacy, security and technology, focusing on their main business objectives. DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 5

6 NETTRICITY DATAHOUSE S CLOUD SERVICE Having provided cloud services since 1996, DataHouse has almost 20 years of experience with the cloud. In 2000, several years before the concept of cloud computing caught the public eye and the cloud became a standard phrase, DataHouse copyrighted Nettricity as the name for DataHouses s cloud service; this name provides another angle from which one can understand the cloud. Nettricity is analogous to an electric company in that clients pay only for what they ve used. Upon plugging in, however, clients receive data and computing power instead of watts. Knowledge of what goes on behind the wall until the power reaches its destination is not necessary; clients can simply plug into Nettricity and be confident that they re receiving safe, reliable power. Another parallel between cloud computing and electricity lies in the advantages associated with a local utility. People get their electricity from local electric companies because it isn t economical to transport electricity over long distances. The same is true with cloud computing; as the distance between the source of computing power and its final destination increases, integration becomes more difficult, response times increase, and the overall quality of service diminishes. In terms of connectivity, it makes more sense to have multiple power plants scattered throughout an area than for every building in that area to be hooked up to the same plant. Local support, management and community involvement are also an important part of service delivery. Nettricity offers both local cloud hosting as well as a dedicated, high speed transmission line to access large scale public cloud services (defined in Deployment Models on page 7). In either case, DataHouse provides the local support, management and integration to ensure quality cloud service delivery. DataHouse understood the comparison between cloud computing and electricity long before Nicholas Carr published an article about it in 2003; we know that like with electricity, local provisioning in the cloud provides immense benefits. We offer a local cloud solution through Nettricity because we want to serve our community s needs. However, while we offer the accessibility and the personal feel of a local company, we do not compromise on our high quality of services. Available Levels of Cloud Services Nettricity offers all levels of cloud service (Iaas, Paas and SaaS). Iaas/Paas Currently, many companies employ DataHouse to provide IaaS/PaaS, environments in which they can develop and deploy applications. With two data centers located on Oahu and in California, Nettricity is also ideal for data storage. The data centers are typically used as primary storage or as secondary storage for disaster-recovery. Nettricity partners with world class public cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Google to provide IaaS/PaaS public cloud services. SaaS Nettricity is also a provider of SaaS; combining our cloud infrastructure with our skilled development teams, Nettricity can develop and deploy applications specific to client needs. DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 6

7 Deployment Models Nettricity offers two deployment models of the cloud: private and public. Private cloud data is stored in one of DataHouse s two data centers. With public cloud, data is stored in Amazon s data centers. Contrary to the nature of their names, private and public do not illustrate the level of security by which data is protected; private and public clouds are both highly protected. Private Cloud Nettricity is capable of providing private clouds tailored specifically to a client s need. Private clouds are operated by the cloud provider exclusively for a specific client and are very customizable; there are more options regarding where the servers are physically located (at a data center or on-premise), and private cloud providers are also able to offer more flexibility in meeting specific application related or security and privacy requirements. Some private cloud providers, including Nettricity, also allow for the expansion of server/storage space. Public Cloud Nettricity also partners with public cloud providers to offer public cloud services. Public cloud providers tend to be larger, more established companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, who have the experience and resources to maintain large, efficient infrastructures. With hundreds of thousands of users and hundreds of thousands of servers, the logistics of cloud computing change. Hardware is no longer a limiting factor, so data storage becomes much more flexible. As the number of users increases, the price per user drops. In other words, through the public cloud, users can have practically unlimited storage for an affordable price. DataHouse, as a Standard Consulting Partner with Amazon, maintains a dedicated line directly into Amazon s network. DataHouse is thus able to provide its clients with access to Amazon s public cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS). DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 7

8 Integration System integration is important for anyone using multiple applications that need to communicate with each other. Cloud-based integration is configuring multiple (often disparate) applications so they work together and share data in a cloud, in multiple clouds, or on-premise. For example, cloud-based integration could connect an on-premise accounting system with a web application hosted in the public cloud that logs employee hours. Nettricity is equipped to provide integration services and can also integrate multiple cloud and on-premise legacy (outdated, non Internet-dependant) systems. Cloud Management With Nettricity, companies can be confident that their data is secure and their applications are operating in optimized cloud environments. In addition to monitoring the software for bugs, updates and security breaches, Nettricity also works hard to ensure that client data is backed up and protected against physical threats. For a more detailed explanation of Nettricity s management services, visit our Nettricity Website. ADVANTAGES OF COMPUTING WITH NETTRICITY In addition to the advantages of cloud computing in general, there are many benefits of computing specifically with Nettricity. 1. DataHouse has a data center right on the island of Oahu - with such local proximity, clients can enjoy easier access to the facility and faster response times. 2. As a local company, DataHouse is more responsive to customer needs and open to customization of services, making for a more flexible and personal experience. 3. DataHouse has the personal feel of a local company, but through partnerships with Amazon and Microsoft, we can offer our clients the resources and support of a large company. DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 8

9 EXAMPLES Numerous companies have already migrated to the cloud take a look at the success stories of these companies that are now cloud computing with Nettricity s private and public clouds Nettricity s Private Cloud Hawaii s Department of Education (DOE) is the tenth largest school district in the United States with approximately 180,000 students, 13,000 teachers and 290 schools. The DOE has been a client of DataHouse since 2007, when Nettricity, as a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, built the Electronic Comprehensive Student Support System (ecsss). ecsss is a SaaS web application running in Nettricity s private cloud that manages student information for special needs students. DOE staff can access ecsss through a web browser and use desktop programs such as Microsoft Excel and Adobe Acrobat to analyze the data and create custom reports. To learn more about Nettricity s SaaS solution for the DOE, visit Microsoft s Partner Case Study. Nettricity s Public Cloud Many other companies take advantage of DataHouse s partnership with Amazon Web Services and use Nettricity s public cloud as a development environment for their applications. For example, even though Nettricity is capable of providing cloud infrastructure, DataHouse also builds SaaS applications for customers on top of Amazon s cloud infrastructure. Nettricity has already created solutions for Hawaii s Department of Education and Department of Labor, as well as for large banks and several companies in other industries. This wide variety of clients is a testament to the flexibility of DataHouse s cloud services; in the same cloud, Nettricity can support a student information system for the entire DOE and a team of as few as five employees. IN CONCLUSION Migration to the cloud can seem intimidating. We hope that this article has elucidated the concept of The Cloud and explained how DataHouse can meet businesses cloud computing needs. Nettricity offers cloud services ideal for businesses migrating from mainframe or distributed computing to cloud computing. At DataHouse, we hire the best and brightest software specialists so that you don t have to. With highly scalable services and pay-per-use billing, enjoy flexibility in your use of cloud services for an affordable price. With virtual and physical security measures as well as continuous monitoring, you can have confidence in the security of your data and the environment in which your applications are running. Let Nettricity manage the IT issues, so you can focus on accomplishing your core business objectives. For additional information regarding Nettricity, DataHouse s cloud service, or to take the next step in migrating your business to the DataHouse cloud, please visit our Nettricity Website or contact us directly. Written by Erin Masatsugu and Erin Ino, July 2013 DataHouse Consulting, Inc Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 1800 Honolulu, Hawaii Phone: (808) Fax: (808) Web Site: DATAHOUSE: Demystifying The Cloud 9

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