At a time when organisations are desperate to maximise the return on their hardware investment, cloud computing has emerged as the technological solution that brings the levels of flexibility, resource-on-demand and affordability that many are seeking.
Just as in nature there are a number of different types of cloud and in our article Hybrid Clouds? we examine the options available to those who may be considering jumping onto a cloud!
Just what is cloud computing? It harks back to the old days when, due to the cost of computers, a version of time-sharing was offered to users of a large system. The amount of computing you required was shared with other users of the system with each user being allocated timeslices. In this model billing could be allocated to each user.
In a similar manner it has been recognised that most computer systems either lie idle for a portion of the time or only use a fraction of their capacity (bit like us humans).
Cloud computing takes benefit from this type of technology by making available a suite of systems, often in an unknown location (hence the cloud - they could migrate from location to location) and offer users the computing resources they require, but without the Capex for the hardware.
Using technologies like VMWare it is possible to share the resources across a number of different users by allocating each of them a virtual machine sitting on top of the actual physical server. These technologies are even more sophisticated in that they can allocate specific amounts of power to each virtual machine, exact amounts of memory, disc space and other resources. This level of control ensures that each user gets what they are paying for!
There are more advanced features available that allow a virtual machine to migrate from one physical server to another if a problem is detected. Also, if a system requires more power then additional resources can be allocated. In cases where more web servers or database servers are required to handle a sudden surge in traffic then additional virtual machines can be added seamlessly.
As far as the user is concerned all this 'magic' goes on transparently. They treat their virtual machine as they would a real physical one, not needing to concern themselves with what is actually happening.
If you would like to learn more about virtual computing and clouds please contact us.